Are you focusing on January 6th or not?

NEW YORK — As he prepares for a daunting re-election campaign in the sprawling New Jersey suburbs, Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski points to the January 6 Uprising in the US Capitol, arguing that Republican control of Congress could fuel further extremism in politics.

In Malinowski’s narrative, Senator Tom Kean Jr., his likely GOP opponent, is a “coward” because he refuses to say publicly whether he agrees with the Republican National Committee’s description of the violence in the Capitol as ” legitimate political discourse.”

“That’s definitely going to be an issue,” he said of the campaign.

Two hundred miles to the south, another vulnerable Democrat, Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, says voters regularly approach her about the violence in the Capitol. But she’s not sure it’ll be a big theme in her campaign ads this fall.

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“Who knows? It’s on track at this point? No,” Spanberger said, adding that she was focused on the economy.

With Democrats defend narrow majorities In Congress, the diverging paths reflect a challenge facing the party as the House committee investigating the insurgency begins prime-time public hearings on Thursday. Some lawmakers and new candidates see this as an invaluable moment to bring public attention back to the violence that day – and what they see as an ongoing threat to democracy. However, polls show that voters are more interested in personal issues such as rising food and gas prices.

Last year’s Virginia governor’s race could serve as a red flag for Democrats eager to link their Republican opponents to the attack on the Capitol.

democrat Terry McAuliffes Messages to voters often include former presidents donald trump and his role in initiating the uprising. He ran television commercials with grainy images of the attack on the Capitol, accompanied by video of Virginia Republicans swearing allegiance to a flag carried in the attack.

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But in a state that President Joe Biden Carried by 10 percentage points, McAuliffe lost by two points.

Former McAuliffe campaign aide Christina Freundlich insists the Jan. 6 focus was an “important piece of the Trump puzzle” that helped empower Democrats, especially in a state just across the Potomac River from the Capitol. But she questioned whether Democrats in other states should rely on the strategy.

“Honestly, I don’t know how effective this will be elsewhere,” Freundlich said.

Despite these concerns, some Democrats and their allies plan to release a message highlighting the insurgency during election year. The Democratic campaign committee is considering spending money this fall on advertising specifically targeting Republicans who participated in the siege, refused to condemn it, or promoted Trump’s lies about the widespread voter fraud that ruined his election has cost.

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Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, a Democratic super-PAC that has pledged over $50 million including digital ads in battleground states focused on Jan. 6, said it was a “wrong election,” committing claiming the party must choose between addressing economic concerns and highlighting what happened that day as part of a broader threat to democracy.

“It’s useful for raising the stakes for the election, and it’s also important for us to do so because this is the current and future Republican Party,” he said, speaking during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday was asked at the hearings. “What happened? on Jan. 6 and ongoing efforts to minimize it — in some cases defend it — I believe form part of an extreme agenda on the part of the party.”

More than two dozen Republicans now running for state or federal office took part in protests in Washington that day as Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the transfer of power. Some have been charged. More helped with efforts to overturn the 2020 election results at home.

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Still others, like leading Republicans in the June 21 Spanberger district primary, have said the violent episode was not a riot.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general said there was no credible evidence the election results were tampered with. The former president’s cheating allegations have also been firmly dismissed by courts, including Trump-appointed judges.

Still, some Republicans tied to such efforts win major statewide Republican primaries.

That includes Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s GOP nominee for governor, who was seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, spending thousands of dollars in campaign money on charter buses ahead of the event and regularly communicating with Trump as the then-president sought to help Biden win deny. If Mastriano wins in November, he would be able to do that Name the official who would oversee the elections in the critical state of vibration.

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For their part, Republicans say they are skeptical that the uprising or the televised hearings will change the political dynamic. Despite some concerns that Mastriano may be too far outside the party’s mainstream, there has been no sustained effort by the GOP to distance itself from him after his primary win last month.

In New Jersey, Kean’s campaign manager Dan Scharfenberger said Malinowski’s “cowardly” comment distracted from everyday economic concerns, including “gas prices have doubled and seniors can’t afford their groceries.”

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chairman of the House Republican campaign committee, dismissed the Jan. 6 panel as “a partisan witch hunt orchestrated by Nancy Pelosi.”

And Calvin Moore, the communications director for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the House of Representatives, said, “There’s a lot less awareness and concern among voters than there is inside the Beltway.”

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Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who has chaired dozens of focus groups since the attack, agreed that Jan. 6 is “an issue of little concern” at this time. It’s not what people address when you ask open-ended questions about how things are going in the country.”

But she also said the hearings offer Democrats an opportunity to change that if they can paint a broader picture of Republicans as being too extreme on issues ranging from guns to abortion rights. That could be especially helpful in states like Arizona, where leading Republican candidates played a key role in trying to topple Biden’s victory.

She pointed to 2010, when Republicans like Delaware Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell lost their general election in an otherwise influential year for the GOP.

“Will the Democrats figure out how to pursue a case against Republicans on extremism charges, and will these hearings add significance as a reminder of that extremism?” she said. “I think the hearings have the potential to change the conversation, but it needs to be part of a broader effort to define the Republican Party as an extremist.”

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She added, “January 6 may be part of a case that you pursue against Republicans, but you must choose to pursue it. He cannot pursue himself.”

___ Associate Press writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/07/big-campaign-question-for-democrats-focus-on-jan-6-or-not/ Are you focusing on January 6th or not?

Sarah Y. Kim

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