Image courtesy of New America
Two news outlets have retracted their endorsements of Republican candidates for Congress who later expressed support for a far-fetched lawsuit that sought to overturn election results in four key swing states.
The Orlando Sentinel, which has a print circulation of over 150,000, published a column from its editorial board titled, “We apologize for endorsing U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, who wants to overturn the election.”
Right Wisconsin, a conservative digital outlet covering politics and policy in the state, issued a similar retraction: “Correction: Error In Editorial Endorsing Tiffany in GOP Primary.”
Rep. Michael Waltz was one of ten Republicans from Florida who signed onto an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit brought by Texas to the Supreme Court earlier this month, while Rep. Tom Tiffany was the only member from Wisconsin.
The suit, which sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania due to alleged election irregularities, was promptly rejected by the court for failing to show “a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”
Each of the four states in question was flipped by President-elect Joe Biden, a stark reverse from 2016 when President Donald Trump had won them.
The Sentinel’s statement was filled with comments directed towards Waltz.
“During our endorsement interview with the incumbent congressman, we didn’t think to ask, ‘Would you support an effort to throw out the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump?’” the column read. “Our bad.”
The Sentinel’s column also touched on why Republicans might have signed onto the statement — considering Trump has faced loss after loss in federal and state courts after decrying the 2020 election as fraudulent.
“[The signatories] wanted to undo 231 years of election tradition and norms so their guy, Donald Trump, can have another four years in office,” the column read. “And so the president won’t send out a mean tweet that might torpedo their chances for reelection.”
In a tweet, Waltz defended his support for the Texas effort to overturn election results.
“As a Green Beret, I’ve fought in countries that settle disputes with violence not the courts,” Waltz said. “Peaceful suits protecting voter integrity are key to our democracy NOT dangerous to it!”
In his column rescinding Right Wisconsin’s endorsement of Tiffany, editor James Widgerson wrote the outlet had made “several errors” in its characterization of the Republican.
The errors, according to Widgerson, included describing Tiffany as “a solid conservative legislator” and “a candidate whom they know will fight for conservative principles in Washington.”
In the Dec. 11 column, Widgerson said conservative politicians would understand the lawsuit was not conservative, and in fact, was “a naked attempt at preserving power for a president that lost the November 3 election (even as Tiffany won re-election in his district).”
The Sentinel said they had initially supported Waltz over his Democratic opponent Clint Curtis partly because Waltz had established a powerful relationship with Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat.
That relationship, to them, was indicative of bipartisan efforts to find common ground.
At the same time, the column took note of an incident during Waltz’s tenure that should’ve warranted concern prior to the election — his crashing of a House Intelligence Committee hearing in the run-up to Trump’s impeachment last December.
“We should have taken that hyperpartisan, juvenile lapse in judgment more seriously, given it more weight,” the Sentinel’s editorial board wrote. “Because it really was a red flag, a sign that Waltz’s loyalty isn’t to the Constitution but to a president whose flaws are deep, profound and dangerous.”
Describing Waltz as “dangerous,” the Sentinel predicted that if the court heard the case brought by Texas and ruled in its favor, the resulting civil backlash could have created a disaster that would take decades to repair.
The paper also suggested their endorsement likely did not hold much influence, since Waltz’s district is heavily and consistently Republican. But regardless of reach, they wrote that media endorsements still serve an important purpose.
“Endorsements also serve as a way to take stock of a candidate’s values and beliefs,” the Sentinel said. “We now know what we didn’t then — that Waltz, a U.S. Army Green Beret who served his country, is willing to undermine the nation to ensure his political party remains in control of the White House.”
In closing, the Sentinel said it felt “a deep sense of remorse and regret” over its endorsement of Waltz, and urged the public at large to take issue with the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“Every American should be appalled at the attempted usurpation, and at elected officials taking part in this terrifying fiasco and violating their oath to protect the country from enemies, foreign and domestic,” the column stated.