The first strategy involves dutiful, non-MAGA Republicans who put country above party and refuse to support crackpot nominees for midterms. We can see it in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, in which Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro takes on MAGA’s favorite state senator, Doug Mastriano, who joined the crowd at the US Capitol on January 6.
The GOP establishment tried but failed to defeat him. So on Wednesday, nine well-known state Republicans — including retired state Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman and former Pennsylvania Reps. Charlie Dent and Jim Greenwood — endorsed Shapiro.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Greenwood said he would not support Mastriano for a number of reasons, including his “participation in the January 6, 2021 rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, his use of campaign funds to transporting supporters to this event, her repeated claims of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, her vow to ban all abortions in the state without exception for rape, incest or to save the life of the pregnant person, her opposition to same-sex marriage, and his comparison of gun control measures to Nazism. (Mastriano also held a hearing in Gettysburg, Pa., to spread lies about voter fraud in the state shortly after the election The hearing featured Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and a Trump appeal.)
Similar to the more than two dozen Republicans Greenwood helped rally to endorse President Biden in 2020, other Republicans can join in endorsing Shapiro and other Democrats against the worst election deniers and extremists of MAGA.
Similarly, in Ohio, former Republican Gov. John Kasich could back moderate Democrat Tim Ryan in his Senate race against Trump frontrunner JD Vance. And in Arizona, sober Republicans such as former Sen. Jon Kyl can take on MAGA Reps. Paul A. Gosar and Andy Biggs. They can also support Democratic opponents of election denier Kari Lake in the race for state governor and Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, who recently blamed gun violence on black people.
The second strategy involves Democrats doing their part in races where a Democratic candidate would have no chance of winning. In Utah, for example, Democrats are lining up behind independent conservative Evan McMullin in his bid against Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who tried to help Trump with his bogus election ploy in early January 2021. Democrats have given up on naming their own. candidate. Surprisingly, Republican Senator Mitt Romney has so far not endorsed his fellow senator from Utah. Other Republicans in the state, including former Rep. Mia Love and former Gov. Jon Huntsman, could do the same. (In a recent poll, McMullin was within points of Lee.)
Likewise, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) faces a menagerie of Holocaust deniers, cranks and conspiracy theorists in her GOP primary, as her recent debate demonstrated. Democrats can ride through the primary to vote for her and keep one of the few sane, patriotic Republicans in power.
Finally, democracy advocates can experiment with new parties to alienate voters from the GOP. For example, Rep. Tom Malinowski (DN.J.), who is vying for re-election in New Jersey’s 7th congressional district, recently received an endorsement from the new Moderate Party. If the party wins its lawsuit against the state’s ban on “merger” parties, Malinowski will appear on the ballot under the Democratic and Moderate banners.
As Malinowski writes in an op-ed for The New York Times, “The Moderate Party is an experiment: an alliance of Democrats on all sides, independents, and moderate Republicans hoping to win an election while pursuing election law reform that could sway voters to save our democracy from toxic polarization. Malinowski thinks it could help appeal to Republicans “disgusted by their national party’s embrace of election lies, vaccine denial and QAnon conspiracy theories, but who are put off by the left wing of the Democratic Party and remain reluctant to pull the lever”.
Malinowski offers a thought experiment: “Imagine if my Republican House colleagues Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger could form a party of moderate voters and offer the validation that comes with his line on the ballot to the next Democratic presidential candidate – as long as this candidate has promised to respect the Constitution and govern from the center. These moderate swing voters could mean the difference between winning and losing, making this an important constituency.
These are not the only ways to defeat right-wing extremists. Rank voting gives an advantage in the primaries to candidates with broader appeal, helping to push candidates to the center. Setting up independent redistricting commissions could also reduce the number of dark red – or dark blue – constituencies and increase the number of competitive seats.
There is no one strategy that fits all situations. Regardless of the methodology, Democrats and non-MAGA Republicans should work on innovative ways to place country above party and diminish the influence of narrow layers of right-wing extremists. Our democracy could depend on it.