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Pelosi defends Democratic efforts to boost far-right candidates in GOP primaries

The House speaker said the efforts were made "in furtherance of our winning the election."
Image: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly press conference on July 21, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly press conference on July 21, 2022 in Washington, D.C.Nathan Howard / Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Friday defended efforts to boost election deniers and other far-right Republican candidates that Democrats see as easier to defeat despite criticism from members of her own party.

“The political decisions that are made out there, are made in furtherance of our winning the election, Pelosi told reporters during a news conference Friday. "We think that the contrast between Democrats and Republicans as they are now, is so drastic that we have to — we have to win.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a $425,000 ad earlier this week that amplified John Gibbs, a House candidate for a Western Michigan district who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

While the ad is at face value an attack on Gibbs over his connections to Trump, GOP primary voters could be motivated to vote for him for the same reason. A spokesperson for his opponent, first-term Rep. Peter Meijer, said the ad was an attempt by Democrats to boost their chances of winning the district in the fall.

Some House Democrats had earlier this week criticized the Gibbs ad, citing the dangers of elevating a former Trump official as compromising to their broader message that Trump’s movement is a threat to American democracy.

Pelosi's comments came in response to a reporter asking how the speaker aligned remarks she has made repeatedly about the demand for a strong Republican Party with Democrats' effort to boost election-denying Republican candidates.

“I said that we need a strong Republican Party, not a cult of personality, that didn’t mean we shouldn’t have a strong Democratic Party as well,” Pelosi said.

The ad elevating Gibbs' was just one example of the Democratic Party's efforts to interfere in GOP primaries. Democrats also tried to boost state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a far-right election denier, who was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, in Pennsylvania's GOP gubernatorial primary.

Nine former and current Republican officials have since publicly endorsed his Democratic opponent, state attorney general Josh Shapiro.

Democrats have meddled in a number of other races.

The Democratic Governors Association booked almost $1.2 million in ads earlier this month promoting Trump-backed candidate Dan Cox in the Republican primary for governor in Maryland. Cox, who has supported Trump's false claims of election theft, won the nomination.

And in Arizona’s upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary, Democrats boosted Trump’s chosen candidate Kari Lake, also an election denier, by highlighting past donations made by her opponent Karrin Taylor Robson to Democratic candidates.