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Pennsylvania GOP Nominates ‘Full-Blown Insurrectionist’ For Governor

In Pennsylvania’s 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary, Republican voters in the Keystone State went with their most extreme option: Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Christian nationalist and far-right conspiracy theorist who has promoted the Big Lie and falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump in his state. The primary election, held on Tuesday, May 17, wasn’t even close: Mastriano defeated fellow Republican Lou Barletta by 24 percent and will be going up against Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro in the general election.

Mastriano’s primary victory is being described as a troubling development by a variety of his critics, ranging from liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent to Never Trump conservative Amanda Carpenter. Sargent, in his May 18 column, stresses that Pennsylvania Republicans went with a flat-out “insurrectionist” when they chose Mastriano.

Sargent has been complaining that mainstream media coverage of Mastriano fails to capture just how dangerously authoritarian his views are. And now that Mastriano is officially Pennsylvania’s 2022 gubernatorial nominee, Sargent is sounding the alarm even more.


Pennsylvania has had a variety of governors in recent decades, from Republican Tom Ridge (a moderate conservative and Never Trumper who was popular in the Philadelphia suburbs during his two terms) to centrist Democrats such as Ed Rendell (a former two-term Philly mayor who chaired the Democratic National Committee in the early 2000s) and the late Bob Casey, Sr. (father of Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.). But if Mastriano defeats Shapiro in the general election, the Keystone State will have a dangerously authoritarian governor who is way to the right of even former Sen. Rick Santorum.

“For the love of democracy, please stop using the phrase ‘election denier,’” Sargent writes. “Now that Doug Mastriano has won the GOP nomination for governor in Pennsylvania, countless news accounts are describing him with that phrase. This is meant to convey the idea that Mastriano won’t accept Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential reelection loss.”

Sargent continues, “That’s true, but it’s insufficient. Let’s state this plainly: Pennsylvania Republicans just nominated a full-blown insurrectionist who intends to use the power of the office to ensure that, as long as he is governor, no Democratic presidential candidate wins his state again.”

The Post columnist also points out that “Christian nationalism” is a key element of Mastriano’s ideology. In other words, Mastriano believes that God Almighty wants him to throw out election results if they favor Democrats.

“Mastriano’s victory also highlights another story that’s bigger than this one contest: the role of Christian nationalism in fueling the growing insurrectionist streak on the right,” Sargent explains. “This nexus underscores the danger this movement poses in a way that also demands more clarity about the worldview of candidates like Mastriano.”

Sargent adds that Mastriano “is running on what is functionally an open vow to use the power of the governor’s office to nullify future election losses, even if they are procedurally legitimate, and even if he knows this to be the case.”

“When Mastriano tried to help Trump in 2020,” Sargent notes, “he adopted the radical argument that the Pennsylvania legislature had the ‘sole authority’ to reappoint new electors for Trump, because (Joe) Biden’s win was ‘compromised.’ Mastriano’s claim of a ‘compromised’ Biden win, of course, wasn’t tethered to actual facts. But here’s the crucial point: It didn’t have to be. The aim of overturning the election was itself such a righteous goal that the creation of a pretext for accomplishing it was justified on that basis.”

Meanwhile, in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on Tuesday night after the Republican primary election was called for Mastriano, Carpenter declares, “Doug Mastriano is an insurrectionist, period.”

Sargent and Carpenter have their differences politically. While Sargent is liberal, Carpenter is among the Never Trumpers who has been condemning the MAGA movement from the right. But one thing they obviously agree on is that Mastriano is quite dangerous. Mastriano, Carpenter notes, “bused supporters to the Capitol on January 6, was photographed on the Capitol grounds, and ever since has sought to use his limited political powers as a Pennsylvania state senator to overturn the election.”



Carpenter points out that “behind the scenes, Republicans have fretted about Mastriano’s candidacy” — fearing that Shapiro would defeat him in the general election. And Shapiro himself, during the primary, said that Mastriano would be the easiest Republican primary candidate to defeat. But Carpenter isn’t so sure.

Carpenter writes, “Do you want to assume Mastriano is going to get shellacked by the super popular, likable, nice man that is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro? The same Shapiro that was so confident that he put out an ad during the GOP primary that looked like he was trying to boost Mastriano’s prospects with Trump voters?”

The conservative adds that in 2016, some pundits insisted that Donald Trump couldn’t defeat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. Indeed, the Biden campaign left nothing to chance in the Keystone State in 2020 because they remembered some famous last words from four years earlier: Trump can’t win in Pennsylvania.

Like Sargent, Carpenter points out that the Pennsylvania secretary of state position is chosen by the governor.

“Republicans are still willing to bet our democracy on someone else cleaning their own house for them,” Carpenter warns. “Oh, and keep in mind that in Pennsylvania, the secretary of the commonwealth — the top elections official — is appointed by the governor. Does anyone doubt that Mastriano would fill that position with someone willing to do whatever it takes to ensure Republicans win the state in 2024?”

Carpenter continues, “There’s an obvious lesson: Hoping that Democrats will solve the problems of the Republican Party has been a grave mistake. It’s not often countries get second chances. But if the GOP now gets behind insurrectionists like Mastriano, it’s January 6th forever. Which is exactly what Mastriano is campaigning on.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Christian Nationalist Mastriano Rising In Pennsylvania Primary

J.D. Vance, the Ohioan who grew up poor, joined the Marines, got a Yale law degree, wrote a bestseller about his hardscrabble upbringing, became a venture capitalist, and panned Donald Trump before becoming a convert to Trumpism and winning Ohio’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate, is one brand of 2022’s Republican candidates—a shapeshifter, as the New York Times’ conservative columnist Bret Stephens noted.

“He’s just another example of an increasingly common type: the opportunistic, self-abasing, intellectually dishonest, morally situational former NeverTrumper who saw Trump for exactly what he was until he won and then traded principles and clarity for a shot at gaining power,” Stephens said in a conversation with New York Times liberal columnist Gail Collins that was published on May 9.

But the GOP’s frontrunner for governor in Pennsylvania’s crowded May 17 primary field, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, is an entirely different Republican: a man of deep religious and political convictions who, if he wins the nomination and the general election, could be problematic for Americans who do not want elected officials to impose their personal beliefs on the wider public, whether the topic is abortion, vaccines, denying election results, or calling on God’s help to seize political power.

Mastriano’s current lead among nine candidates, with nearly 28 percent, could be taken two ways. He could be an extremist, like Trump in 2016, who won because too many contenders split the mainstream vote in a low-turnout primary. (In 2018, less than one-fifth of Pennsylvania’s voters turned out—suggesting that 2022’s winner may be nominated by as little as 5 percent of its state electorate.) Or, if Pennsylvania’s GOP were more firmly in control of its nomination process, Mastriano’s support might pale next to the establishment’s pick.

It remains to be seen if voters’ allegiances will shift as May 17 approaches, especially as the Democrats’ likely nominee, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has signaled that Mastriano is the Republican he would most like to run against in the general election by launching TV attack ads. Centrist Republicans also are attacking Mastriano, but the Philadelphia Inquirer reports it’s not working.

Mastriano’s prospects, and his chances in the upcoming general election in the fall as another breed of 2022’s GOP mavericks, suggest that wider currents are roiling American politics, including, in this national battleground state, a mainstreaming of white Christian nativism.

Mastriano is a retired Army military intelligence officer and Army War College historian (whose error-filled 2014 biography of a World War I heroic Christian soldier embarrassed its university press). In uniform, he served overseas in Eastern Europe, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His career in elected office started in a predictable rightward fashion: proposing a bill to ban abortion. But after 2020’s election, he emerged from local ranks as an early and fervent member of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” cavalry who sought to subvert the certification of its winner, Pennsylvania native Joe Biden, who officially beat Trump by 80,000 votes.

Mastriano invited Big Lie propagandist Rudy Giuliani and others to legislative hearings. On January 6, 2021, he bussed Trump supporters to the U.S. Capitol, and newly surfaced videos show that he followed them past police barriers. He opposed COVID-19 mandates, and in mid-2021 started calling for an Arizona-style “audit” of the state’s 2020 presidential election results. But unlike Arizona’s effort, led by the Cyber Ninjas’ Doug Logan, another deeply observant but more private Christian, Mastriano is vocal about how much his religion influences his politics.

A New Yorker profile by Eliza Griswold on May 9 characterizes Mastriano as a white Christian nationalist—a term he rejects—who, before the January 6 Capitol riot, “exhorted his followers to ‘do what George Washington asked us to do in 1775. Appeal to Heaven. Pray to God. We need an intervention.’”

On the 2020 election denial front, Mastriano is not alone. Although he was leading in a crowded field, there are other candidates for governor who have been falsely proclaiming that Democrats stole their state’s 2020 election and the presidency, and even forged Electoral College documents sent to Washington, D.C.

“If you thought Donald Trump’s endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz for Senate was the worst development in Pennsylvania’s 2022 GOP primaries, wait until you hear about the Republicans running for governor,” wrote Amanda Carpenter, a political columnist for the Bulwark, an anti-Trump Republican news and opinion website.

“They’re all election conspiracists.” she continued. “The only thing differentiating them is how far down the rabbit hole they go. And, there’s an excellent chance the nuttiest bunny of them all, Doug Mastriano, is going to win the primary.”

But Mastriano is not a mere Trump imitator. He is cut from an older, more gothic American political cloth: mixing a nativist piety, conspiratorial mindset, and authoritarian reflexes. The Philadelphia Inquirer characterized his unbending religiosity as belonging to the “charismatic strand of Christianity.” The New Yorker’s Griswold concluded that “Mastriano’s rise embodies the spread of a movement centered on the belief that God intended America to be a Christian nation.”

This political type is not new, wrote Kevin Phillips, a former Republican strategist and historian, in 2006 in American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, which detailed how George W. Bush’s evangelism tainted his presidency. However, Mastriano’s ascension, coupled with a Trump-fortified U.S. Supreme Court that’s poised to void a woman’s right to abortion, affirms today’s reemergence of a radical right.

“Christianity in the United States, especially Protestantism, has always had an evangelical—which is to say, missionary—and frequently a radical or combative streak,” wrote Phillips. “Some message has always had to be preached, punched, or proselytized.”

Add in Mastriano’s embrace of Trumpian authoritarianism, and the Keystone State’s leading GOP candidate for governor is proudly part of this pantheon. As the Inquirer wrote on May 4, he “often invokes Esther, the biblical Jewish queen who saved her people from slaughter by Persians, casting himself and his followers as God’s chosen people who have arrived at a crossroads—and who must now defend their country, their very lives.”

“It is the season of Purim,” Mastriano said, according to the paper’s report of a “March [campaign] event in Lancaster, referring to the Jewish holiday celebrated in the Book of Esther.” The gubernatorial candidate continued, “And God has turned the tables on the Democrats and those who stand against what is good in America. It’s true.”

A Heavy Hand?

It’s hardly new for Republicans to demonize Democrats. But under Trump, the enemies list has grown to include not just the media (Mastriano has barred reporters from rallies and abruptly ended interviews), but America’s “secular democracy” (as Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University and the author of Jesus and John Wayne, put it in Griswold’s piece for the New Yorker). This targeting includes the government civil servants who administer elections and the technology used to cast and count votes.

When it comes to election administration, if elected governor, Mastriano gets to appoint the secretary of state, the state’s top election regulator. He also has pledged to sign legislation to curtail voting with mailed-out ballots, which was how 2.6 million Pennsylvanians—about 38 percent of voters, including nearly 600,000 Trump voters—cast 2020’s presidential ballots. (As of May 10, nearly 900,000 voters had applied for a mailed-out ballot for 2022’s primary.) Such a policy shift, if enacted, would deeply inconvenience, if not discourage, voter turnout.

Mastriano, if elected, could also play an outsized role should the presidency in 2024 hinge on Pennsylvania’s 19 presidential electors. In the wake of the 2020 election, as Trump and his allies filed and lost more than 60 election challenge suits, one of their arguments was the U.S. Constitution decrees that state legislatures set the “time, place and manner” of elections. That authority could include rejecting the popular vote in presidential elections and appointing an Electoral College slate favoring the candidate backed by a legislative majority, which, in Pennsylvania, has been Republican since 2011’s extreme gerrymander.

Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of recent litigation over this power grab, the so-called “independent state legislature doctrine.” If elected governor, Mastriano could hasten a constitutional crisis, because under the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which was designed to say how competing slates of presidential electors are to be resolved, the governor—not the state legislature—has the final say, according to Edward B. Foley, a widely respected election law scholar.

“A key provision of the act says that if the [U.S.] House and Senate are split [on ratifying a state’s Electoral College slate], the governor of the state in dispute becomes the tiebreaker,” Foley wrote in 2016, when scholars were gaming post-Election Day scenarios in Trump’s race against Hillary Clinton. While speculating about 2024 is premature, there’s some precedent to heed.

After the 2020 election, 84 people in seven battleground states that Biden won, including Pennsylvania, sent lists of unauthorized Trump electors to the National Archives in Washington. Two of Mastriano’s primary opponents, ex-congressman Lou Barletta and Charlie Gerow, signed the fake Electoral College slates. Mastriano, however, did not.

With days to go before the primary, Josh Shapiro, the Democrats’ likely nominee for governor (he is running unopposed in the party primary) is already running anti-Mastriano TV ads seeking to tie the Republican candidate to Trump. (Incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, faces term limits and cannot seek reelection.) Shapiro’s strategy to elevate Mastriano is “dangerous,” according to Inquirer columnist Will Bunch, as it affirms Mastriano’s credentials to voters and could backfire in the fall—in a replay of Trump’s 2016 victory in the state.

“A Gov. Mastriano, Shapiro’s new TV spot says, would effectively ban abortion in the Keystone State and, the narrator continues, ‘he led the fight to audit the 2020 election,’” Bunch wrote on May 8. “‘If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.’ Cue the Satanic music, maybe the only clue that the Shapiro campaign thinks these are bad things. The commercial’s closing pitch: ‘Is that what we want in Pennsylvania?’”

“The answer, for far too many people in a state where the wife-cheating, private-part-grabbing xenophobe won by 44,292 votes in 2016, would, unfortunately, be ‘yes.’”

But a Mastriano primary victory would be more than the latest affirmation of the ex-president’s sway over swaths of today’s GOP. It heralds the rise of “radicalized religion,” as Phillips wrote in American Theocracy about fundamentalists and George W. Bush’s presidency, merged with more recent Trumpian authoritarianism.

“Few questions will be more important to the 21st-century United States than whether renascent religion and its accompanying political hubris will be carried on the nation’s books as an asset or as a liability,” Phillips wrote. “While sermons and rhetoric propounding American exceptionalism proclaim religiosity an asset, a sober array of historical precedents—the pitfalls of imperial Christian overreach from Rome to Britain—tip the scales toward liability.”

Reprinted with permission from Independent Media Institute.

Pennsylvania Republicans Fear Nominating Mastriano For Governor

Republicans in Pennsylvania are expressing growing concern about the possibility of the party being defeated in November for the state's gubernatorial election.

According to Politico, Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Penn.) appears to be the frontrunner and Republican leaders are reportedly working tirelessly being the scenes to ensure he does not end up with the Republican nomination.

As the primary election approaches, "GOP gubernatorial campaigns and leading state and county officials have been in discussions about uniting behind a single candidate to avoid a scenario in which Mastriano wins the crowded race by taking advantage of a splintered vote. If that doesn’t work, another option is persuading the candidates in single-digits in the polls to drop out."

Speaking to Politico, Andy Reilly, a Republican National Committee (RNC) member, Sam DeMarco, who served as the Allegheny County Republican Party chair, and other sources opened up about their concerns.

“There’s so much that concerns me about this,” DeMarco told the news outlet as he specified that he was only speaking for himself as opposed to the entire group. “We’re in a year where all evidence points to a red tsunami. And it appears here in Pennsylvania, because of the number of people in the race and his smaller but consistent base of support, we may be nominating the only Republican who would be unelectable in November.”

Reilly also released a statement detailing his concerns.

In a statement to Politico, Reilly said, “As National Committeeman, I have spoken regularly with almost all of the gubernatorial campaigns over the past [three] months. Last week when the presumptive [Democratic] nominee, Josh Shapiro, and the State Democratic Party used campaign resources to assist the candidacy of Doug Mastriano in the Republican primary, it raised concerns among the campaigns. Those concerns have led to discussions among the campaigns of which I have been occasionally involved.”

Reilly also added that “the state party voted not to endorse a candidate, any decision a campaign makes to endorse another candidate, suspend their campaign or stay in the race is entirely the decision of that campaign.”

Mike Conallen, the former chief of staff for Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) who now serves as a Republican strategist in Pennsylvania, also explained why he believes Mastriano will have the most difficult time clinching a gubernatorial win. The Republican candidate, who has been a vocal supporter of Trump and his voter fraud conspiracies, leaves heavily to the far right. For Conallen, it seems that may be a bit problematic.

“I think there is a significant level of concern that Mastriano, of all of the primary candidates, will have the most difficult time in the general, just because of the level of his conservative viewpoints and policies,” said Conallen. “There was the general consensus that even though he was the most likely to win the primary, he was going to have the toughest time in the general.”`

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Super-Rich GOP Senate Candidate Says Keep Minimum Wage At $7.25

Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick opposes increasing the federal minimum wage and wants to keep it at its current level of $7.25 an hour, set in 2009, when it was raised from $6.55.

With tens of millions of dollars earned running a hedge fund business, McCormick does not need a higher minimum wage to pay for his basic needs. But for the more than 10 percent of Pennsylvanians who live below the poverty line, a higher minimum wage would make a huge difference.

In an interview on the podcast Politics PA podcast, first flagged this week by the progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century, McCormick was asked whether he supported having any federal minimum wage at all.

"I wouldn't change the minimum wage we have now," the former George W. Bush administration Treasury Department official responded. "But I wouldn't raise it."

Pennsylvania has not opted to raise its state minimum above the federal floor, though Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has increased it for state employees and unsuccessfully prodded the GOP-controlled legislature to do the same for other workers.

But the $7.25 minimum set in 2009 is only worth about $5.34 in 2022 dollars. A person working 40 hours a week at that rate would make about $15,080 a year, well below the $18,310 federal poverty line for a family of two.

McCormick said on Feb. 18, "Inflation across our nation continues to rise — spiking costs for all Pennsylvanians, especially working families, at the store and at the pump." However, instead of supporting a minimum wage increase, he proposes to get rid of President Joe Biden's investments in infrastructure and families, cut taxes, and eliminate federal regulations on businesses.

All of Pennsylvania's neighboring states have opted to increase their minimum wages above the $7.25 level. In total, at least 25 states voluntarily raised their wage floor for 2022.

While recent polling shows about two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters support a minimum wage increase, Republican lawmakers at the state and federal levels have blocked Democratic proposals for a more livable minimum wage.

A McCormick spokesperson did not respond immediately to an inquiry for this story.

But according to a February report by Insider, McCormick is personally quite wealthy.

Between 2010 and 2013, he received at least $70 million in discretionary awards from his then-employer, the Bridgewater Associates investment management firm, according to information contained in his 2015 divorce records.

Had he been working at the minimum wage he does support in a 40-hour-per-week full-time job, it would have taken him more than 4,641 years to earn that much.

McCormick is one of several Republican candidates running in November's race to succeed retiring Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Judge Puts Screaming 'Sovereign' Jan. 6 Defendant Behind Bars

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Pennsylvania resident and pizzeria owner Pauline Bauer, one of the many far-right Donald Trump supporters facing charges in connection with the January 6 insurrection, has been resorting to over-the-top antics ever since her arrest. And this week, journalist Scott MacFarlane reports in a Twitter thread, a judge became fed up with Bauer and "ordered U.S. Marshals" to take her "into custody."

Bauer, who was arrested by the FBI in rural Kane, Pennsylvania on May 19, is facing charges that include violent entry, disruptive conduct and obstruction of Congress. Prosecutors, journalist Kelly Weill reported in the Daily Beast on July 11, allege that when Bauer broke into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, she threatened violence against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said, "Bring Nancy Pelosi out here now…. We want to hang that fucking bitch."

Nonetheless, Bauer has stayed out of jail — until now. This week, MacFarlane reports, Bauer was "screaming" when the frustrated judge ordered that she be taken into custody. The judge said, "The problem is she's not going to do what I direct her to do…. Ms. Bauer is now going to be incarcerated."

In the courtroom, MacFarlane notes, Bauer refused to surrender her U.S. passport while awaiting trial. The pizzeria owner told the judge, "I have (a) right to my self-determination" and insisted that she was not subject to the court's supervision.

According to MacFarlane, Bauer told the judge, "(The) FBI has been watching me ever since Day One.... They know where I'm at 24 hours a day.... I'm not a danger to society.... I am an asset to my community."

Bauer, MacFarlane explained, will be jailed in Washington, D.C. And because she will be behind bars, she will not be unable to attend the "Justice for January 6" demonstration that is scheduled to take place in D.C. this weekend. Organizers of the demonstration are claiming that the January 6 insurrectionists did nothing wrong when they stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in a failed attempt to prevent Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's victory over Trump in the 2020 election.

Bauer has insisted on representing herself in court and refused to work with an attorney. During a June 11 proceeding held online via Zoom, she told the court, "I do not stand under the law. Under Genesis 1, God gave man dominion over the law."

McFarlane said that Bauer had previously claimed to be a "sovereign citizen," part of an ideological movement of people who believe they are not subject to U.S. laws. But on Friday, he reported, she claimed to have never said she was a sovereign citizen.

Arizona’s Fake Audit Is Spreading Like Cancer

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Donald Trump is succeeding in mainstreaming his fringe politics at the state level just like he did at the federal level.

Originally, the Arizona sham audit was an outlier—replicated in no other state and only gaining prominence among Trumpy bit players at the state level. Now, however, GOP leaders in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have put the full weight of their legislative bodies behind the Arizona-style investigations, giving them a veneer of import despite the fact that they are nothing more than exploratory boondoggles.

These so-called "audits" won't overturn the election results, and they are coming on the heels of multiple recounts in both states. So the likelihood that the reviews will reveal anything approaching a significant finding is sheer fantasy. But at the end of the day, they needed to be on Trump's good side, and putting the full force of government behind the effort was the surest way to do that.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, who had been dragging his feet on opening an investigation, finally bowed to Trump's pressure campaign in late August.

"I am 100 percent behind it," Corman told a pro-Trump media personality after Trump loyalists began calling for primary challenges to any GOP lawmakers standing in the way of a review. Corman ultimately sidelined one of the state's chief proponents of the audit, Sen. Doug Mastriano, and put a loyalist in charge of the effort—Sen. Cris Dush.

In Wisconsin, GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos made a similar calculation. In June, Vos tapped former conservative Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to lead a state audit after Trump had attacked Vos and several other GOP lawmakers as "working hard to cover up election corruption."

Late last month, Wisconsin Republicans on a key Assembly committee voted along party lines to pump nearly $680,000 in taxpayer funding into the effort. Vos later bragged to a conservative radio host that Trump was "comfortable" with "where we're heading."

Ultimately, GOP lawmakers like Vos and Corman have mainstreamed Trump's corruption to save their own hides.

"It's disappointing, because part of the burden of leadership is killing bad ideas that might be popular with the base," Trey Grayson, former Kentucky GOP secretary of state, told Politico. "When they put their imprimatur on it, it's a signal to everybody that they think that this is important."

In the meantime, the Arizona fraudit has produced exactly nothing—no results—and no one has any idea when it will.

Corman said that he hoped the Arizona results would "give us momentum, make it harder for courts to shoot us down, if results have happened in other states that have seen this." Corman has also indicated subpoenas are in the offing if they become necessary. Hearings on the matter are set to begin later this week.

Biden Infrastructure Plan Can Slow Climate Change: Expert

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A bipartisan infrastructure deal backed by President Joe Biden could be key in addressing climate change, one climate expert says, even if talks on the bill have been slowed by GOP pushback.

Evan Endres, climate and energy policy manager for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania, told The American Independent Foundation on Monday that his state has a "complicated carbon puzzle that needs to be solved" and that a set of bipartisan infrastructure investments being considered by Congress could be one part of the solution.

Last month, Biden and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a $579 billion framework for those investments in transportation, broadband, and water systems infrastructure. Although negotiations on the exact language of the bill have stalled, discussions are ongoing.

The framework includes funds to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, electrify school and transit buses, upgrade the power grid, and clean up pollution.

Addressing those issues alone would be a boon to Pennsylvania, Endres said. "A lot of positive things are being discussed — concrete climate solutions that would create jobs and opportunity in Pennsylvania," he said.

Electrification of trucks and "heavy duty equipment," for instance, would jumpstart the state's economy directly, he explained.

"Mack Trucks, an American stalwart brand, makes an electric truck right here in Pennsylvania, at the Lehigh Valley Operations in Macungie ... heavy duty electric trucks you might see in a municipal trash fleet," he said. "A lot of the support for heavy duty electrification of equipment speaks directly to a brand that's part of the heart and soul of Pennsylvania."

He also noted that investments in battery and storage capacity could benefit the state. "We're a major exporter of electricity to other states," Endres said. "The more we can improve storage, the more we can export renewable energy."

As of now, the state is not only emitting greenhouse gases at home — it is also sending it out to other states.

"We're fifth in the nation for carbon emissions, we're a major exporter of energy to most states in the mid-Atlantic. We're the second largest net exporter of electricity behind Texas," he said. "Not only are we a large carbon emitter, but we're exporting that carbon-intensive electricity to other states who are also working to solve the carbon problem, the climate problem."

Endres is similarly bullish on provisions to deploy renewable energy generation efforts on the same lands that were once used for coal mining.

"That's something that should excite Pennsylvanians, particularly communities close to those formerly mined lands," he said. "You're bringing a new economic stimulation, development to those same lands through renewable energy, solar energy. That's a great intersection for those areas."

With a bipartisan infrastructure package passed, he added, more jobs will follow. "That tech requires a lot of construction, jobs for pipefitters, electricians, building trades, laborers," he said.

Endres also flagged another area that could lead to a jobs boost: cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells.

The state's fossil fuel legacy, he said, includes "an unfathomable number of abandoned oil and gas wells. It's not uncommon to hear of hunters in the woods in Pennsylvania stumbling on an open well emitting methane as a pollutant — maybe it was drilled 80 or 90 years ago and no one is responsible."

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has documented about 9,000 of those orphaned wells — but estimates the number that need to be capped is in the hundreds of thousands.

"Going through, finding these things, capping them safely," Endres said, is "not only a climate solution but a big job that will require engineers, technicians, people who know how to work safely with open gas wells, people being out in the field to identify, tag them, and assess the priority."

He added, "It's a big problem and a climate liability. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than just carbon emission."

In all, the bipartisan package is a series of "really great first steps" and some "really great second steps," but ones that need to be hurried along soon.

"There's a lot of promising change happening. What we need is the kind of policy and investments that put a little gasoline on that fire of change," he concluded, before adding jokingly, "...Or flip the switch on the solar panels."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fearful Of Death Threats, Election Officials Resigning In Droves

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a disturbing article published on June 11, Reuters' Linda So offered in-depth reporting on all of the death threats, abuse and harassment that election workers have been suffering thanks to the Big Lie and former President Donald Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. And according to Associated Press reporter Anthony Izaguirre, many election jobs are remaining vacant.

In an article published on June 13 — only two days after the Reuters article came out — Izaguirre reports, "After facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and now the potential of new punishments in certain states, county officials who run elections are quitting or retiring early. The once-quiet job of election administration has become a political minefield thanks to the baseless claims of widespread fraud that continue to be pushed by many in the Republican Party."

According to Izaguirre, "It's difficult to quantify exactly how many election officials across the country have left their posts and why, since the departures are not generally tallied. Retirements also are common after presidential elections. But in places that do track such information, along with anecdotal accounts from county officials, it is clear that many have recently left because of the newfound partisan rancor around the jobs and the threats many local election workers faced leading up to the November election and afterward as former President Donald Trump and his allies challenged the results."

Izaguirre reports that in Pennsylvania, "about a third of Pennsylvania's county election officials have left in the last year and a half" — and in Michigan, "several seasoned election officials" have "recently left." In Wisconsin, according to Izaguirre, "more than two-dozen clerks have retired since the presidential election, and another 30 clerks or their deputies quit by the end of 2020."

"The local election jobs are being vacated as Trump's false claims of fraud persist within the GOP and provide a platform for his loyalists to launch campaigns to become top election officials in several swing states," Izaguirre notes.

Barb Byrum, clerk of Ingham County, Michigan, fears that far-right conspiracy theorists will try to take over election jobs that become vacant.

Byrum told AP, "These conspiracy theorists are in it for the long haul. They're in it to completely crumble our republic, and they're looking at these election administrator positions. They're playing the long game."

The fear of fines, according to Izaguirre, is another thing that could make election jobs "unpalatable."

"A new law in Iowa imposes a $10,000 fine on election administrators for a technical infraction of election rules," Izaguirre observes. "A similar law in Florida could lead to $25,000 fines for election supervisors if a ballot drop box is accessible outside early voting hours or is left unsupervised."

Wendy Helgeson, president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, told AP, "It's hard to convince someone it's a good way to give back to the community when you're afraid of going to clerk jail. It's harder and harder to get people to work in government as a whole."