OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A Democratic organization that attempted to shame several Republican lawmakers into resigning after they were seen in crowds during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building was ultimately unsuccessful.
Politico reported that members of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which works to flip statehouses from red to blue, managed to catch glimpses of state-level Republican lawmakers in the crowds near the Capitol as hundreds stormed the building and fought with police to get in as lawmakers prepared to certify the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden.
That gave them the idea to launch a pressure campaign for each identified GOP lawmaker in a bid to force them to resign in shame, believing that the national mood was such that Republicans were a damaged brand and that their titular leader, then-President Donald Trump, was an albatross around their necks.
Any Republican legislator who took part in yesterday’s insurrection in DC should resign immediately. Yesterday was a stain on our country’s history and a dangerous affront to democracy.https://t.co/faJ1InHGQa
— Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (@DLCC) January 8, 2021
The list set in motion a full-time effort inside the DLCC to identify Republican legislators who attended the insurrection and “call them out” — an old-fashioned name-and-shame campaign. They wanted the lawmakers who had supported a historic assault on democracy — the state reps and delegates and assembly members who had either attended the “Stop the Steal” rally, swarmed past police barricades, or in at least one case, entered the Capitol itself — to be deemed intolerable by their own.
Eight months later, as the Jan. 6 congressional committee struggles to enforce witness subpoenas, and with all but a few members of the GOP dismissing the investigation as a partisan exercise, it is easy to forget those first few hours and days when such a response not only felt feasible, but likely.
“We honestly thought that it was possible that some of these folks actually would at least face consequences or step down,” DLCC’s national press secretary, Christina Polizzi, said.
But instead, there was no mass exodus of GOP lawmakers, despite the organization’s best efforts. In fact, the effort to time many of them to Trump actually helped their political careers.
“Rather than shaming Republican state lawmakers out of office, Democrats found that many of the names on the list avoided pushback from party leaders in their state, grew their political platform and online following, and in at least three cases are now running for statewide office under the banner of former President Donald Trump,” Politico reported.
“In terms of seeing any difference on the ground,” Polizzi told the outlet, “the only thing that we can point to is awareness of who these legislators are, but I don’t think that it has changed Republicans one iota.”
One Republican, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, has certainly seen his reputation enhanced among supporters.
“His street cred went up,” Jay Costa, the Democratic minority leader in the Pennsylvania state Senate, said. “There’s no question.”
He went on to say that some senators told him while they attended closed-door GOP caucus meetings, Mastriano said he was texting with Trump, “filling in Trump“ on plans for the election audits.
“I’m only telling you what my Republican colleagues tell me: that he’s texting Trump, ‘Corman said this, Corman did that,’” he said of the GOP leader. “And then Trump turns around and, you know, within hours, blasts Corman for not having the guts to do an audit. You know, that kind of stuff.”
“The test of whether any of these insurrectionists get scathed will be November 2022,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat who is chairing a new super PAC, Never Again, said. “We never assumed that they’d have much if any pushback within their own party.”
Trump continues to campaign for GOP candidates ahead of the 2022 midterms and many of them are expected to win their primaries on account of his support.