Leaders in the “Stop the Steal” protest movement on Tuesday threatened to challenge Republican senators who don’t object to electoral votes during next month’s joint session of Congress.
“We are calling on at least one senator to join them,” Ali Alexander, the director of the movement, said at a press conference in Washington.
“We are going to target the GOP senators, and we will primary the ones that don’t stand with us and we will celebrate the ones that do stand with the voters.”
Four Republican senators have suggested an openness to joining the group in the House planning the objection. Others have said they oppose the plan, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
The joint session is to count electoral votes submitted by each state. Seven states are sending dueling electors, providing a better opportunity to file challenges.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier on Dec. 15, about 24 hours after electors in all 50 states cast votes for president, said on the Senate floor that “our country has officially a president-elect and a vice president-elect.”
He congratulated Joe Biden, saying the Democratic candidate had won.
Biden has long claimed victory in the 2020 election but President Donald Trump and others are contesting election results in battleground states. The Epoch Times is not calling the race at this time.
Alexander directed comments at McConnell, telling him: “The constitutional process has not been exhausted. We have Jan. 6. In fact, you play a role in that.”
McConnell’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Alexander’s group is circulating a letter for representatives to sign onto that would signal a commitment to challenge electoral votes. He said seven have signed on so far, but declined to name them.
Republican leadership in Congress has notably broken with Trump on a number of issues. The latest example was its support of a national defense bill despite a veto threat from the president.
Other speakers at the press conference alluded to the Tea Party, a grassroots organizing effort that successfully toppled members of Congress considered part of the establishment. McConnell opposed the movement and helped defeat some of its main candidates.
“The establishment beat the Tea Party by out-waiting us, by co-opting or corrupting some of our people, leaders. But they didn’t have a visionary leader, and they didn’t have the vision of America first. And you cannot wait out the American people on this and think it will all turn out fine. That’s what President Trump knows. That’s what these patriots know,” said Ed Martin, president of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, a conservative group, and former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
Martin warned the Republican Party that voters are hard to motivate without Trump on the ballot and it will be even harder to get voters to turn out for candidates that have not supported the president’s efforts to challenge election results.
Trump has railed against Republican officials in recent weeks, though he’s avoided calling out GOP senators. Trump said that former Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) should primary Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022 and has repeatedly criticized Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
Alexander Bruesewitz, a founding member of 2020 Stop the Steal coalition, called out another senator who has referred to Biden as president-elect, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
“You will be primaried in 2022,” Bruesewitz said. “That’s a promise.”
Lankford called Biden president-elect on Nov. 8 during a church service. “I believe that verse whether President Obama got elected, whether President Trump got elected, whether now-vice president, now-President Elect Joe Biden gets elected,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the senator told The Epoch Times via email that Lankford “did not call him President-elect.”
“He was giving a sermon on Romans 13:1, not congratulating Biden on an election,” she said. Lankford told KTUL on Wednesday, “I have not referred to Joe Biden as president-elect.”
Bruesewitz said some people in Washington “just don’t seem to get it all; they want to lose.”
“It’s a disgrace what Mitch McConnell said. We need fighters, we need fighters in Washington,” Bruesewitz said, urging people not to give up on Trump because “he hasn’t given up on us.”
Arizona Rep. Anthony Kern was part of one of the seven submissions of an alternate slate of electors. He told reporters that Trump “did win the election, but it was stolen from the electorate, it was stolen from the American people.”
“These are now Trump’s people. This is Trump’s party, and we are paying attention,” added Meshawn Maddock, a Michigan GOP elector. “These people are not going to go away. So abandon the grassroots at your own peril.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comments from Sen. Lankford and his spokeswoman.