Politics

500+ Republicans Have Ties To The Capitol Riot. Young People Are Signing Up To Unseat Them

The co-founder of Run For Something says the deadly Capitol riot and continued GOP promotion of the “Big Lie” is motivating young people to run for local office en masse.

(from left to right) Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver; Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano; and Virginia state Rep. Dave LaRock. All three state Republican legislators have ties to the deadly Capitol riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. | AP, Getty Images
(from left to right) Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver; Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano; and Virginia state Rep. Dave LaRock. All three state Republican legislators have ties to the deadly Capitol riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. | AP, Getty Images

Mad about the 500+ elected Republicans who “aided and abetted” the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot? The organization Run For Something is looking for young progressives to step up and unseat them in upcoming elections.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which is focused on electing Democrats to state legislatures, has so far identified 508 GOP lawmakers who it says contributed to violence in the Capitol or otherwise supported attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Run For Something, which works with DLCC and other Democratic or left-leaning groups, is trying to find young, diverse progressives to run against those 508 “because we have to hold them accountable,” the organization’s co-founder Amanda Litman said in an interview with NowThis.

“I think accountability looks like continuing to call for their censures and their resignations,” Litman said. At least one of the 57 state and local Republicans who have been identified by news outlets as in attendance at the “Stop the Steal” rally that led to the riot. has been arrested and resigned. But other state lawmakers who attended continue to serve. Republicans control some 62% of state chambers and legislatures as of February 2021, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

She added: “I think accountability looks like making sure that they cannot hold another term — that people remember what they did and what they’ve called for… that they do not get to run another campaign without being reminded every single day of the way they betrayed their oath of office.”

Some of those same GOP lawmakers are pushing the “Big Lie,” or false claim of nonexistent fraud in the 2020 presidential election, to attempt passing laws that will severely restrict voting rights — another reason Litman is focused on recruiting pro-democracy progressive candidates. 

The DLCC categorized the 508 GOP officials accused of “aiding and abetting” into three categories: “the insurrectionists,” who went to D.C. themselves and attended the rally where former President Donald Trump spoke and/or the riot afterward; “the seditious signatories,” who signed onto state resolutions or letters calling to overturn the results of the 2020 election; and the “Stop The Steal superspreaders,” who “helped spread lies about Joe Biden’s victory, entertaining the fantasy of rigged elections that inspired so many hard-core supporters to storm the Capitol.”

“By sharing those lies with their supporters, they engaged in mass deception and undermined the foundations of our democracy,” the DLCC wrote in its description of the “GOP Hall of Shame.”

So far, the four-year-old Run For Something has seen an incredible amount of interest from potential candidates. Litman says January 2021 was the organization’s best recruitment month yet, and that so far in 2021, nearly 10,000 young people have signed up. About 95 percent of people who sign up with RFS are under the age of 40.

“And many, many of them have pointed to the insurrection and the Big Lie the Republicans are spreading as the reason why they’re ready to show up and run for office themselves,” she told NowThis. 

Litman said the organization helps prospective candidates “figure out how to actually get on the ballot” and then build a campaign.

“I think it’s really worth noting we can keep these people out of office,” Litman said, referring to anti-democratic candidates and lawmakers. She cites the example of Rep. Adrian Tam (D-HI), an out gay Asian American and RFS candidate who ran against the far-right Proud Boys’ Hawaii chapter leader Nicholas Ochs in the 2020 election. Tam defeated Ochs handily, winning 63 percent of the vote and becoming the first out LGBTQ+ person in Hawaii’s state legislature.

A couple months later, Ochs was allegedly illegally entering the Capitol building with fellow rioters, and has since been indicted by a federal grand jury. Ochs has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but local outlet KHON2 reported that a tweet from his now-suspended Twitter account “indicates he was among the people who had entered the building during the riot.”

“This is the Republican Party. It is Trumpism and seditionism all the way down,” Litman said. “And so I’m really glad that Adrian threw his name into the ring and decided to jump in against Nick.”

RFS is focused on recruiting for state and local races, like statehouses, state Senates, school boards, and more, rather than federal campaigns. Organizers point out that state and local offices can more directly impact people’s daily lives, from school boards that control education budgets and COVID-related reopenings to officials working on police accountability, affordable housing, and public transit. (“One of the things that the last year has shown us is that it really matters who's in charge on the school boards,” Litman said.)

Other organizations are recruiting or supporting candidates to run against incumbent U.S. senators such as Josh Hawley (R-MO), seen by many as the leading insurrectionist in the U.S. Senate. But Litman says the two can go hand in hand.

“If you want to run for a local office in Missouri to help gin up turnout against the Missouri senator, or in Texas, in any of these other states, Wisconsin, we’re excited to help you because we know that more local candidates running for office, talking to voters, and getting them to show up at the polls will help increase Democratic turnout across the ticket,” she explained. 

Out of 525 RFS-endorsed candidates on the ballot in November 2020, about 45%, or a total of 225 candidates, won. Since its inception, Run for Something has elected nearly 500 young people to local offices across 45 states, Litman said, adding that 55% of those elected are women, 56% are Black, brown, or Indigenous people, and 21% are LGBTQ+.

“They really look like the American people and they are remarkable,” she said. “We try to make sure that everyone feels part of this incredible nationwide movement of young people who are not just voting and not just volunteering, but really taking ownership of our democracy."

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