Republican leaders eager to move on from the Capitol insurrection face a new "headache" as 2022 midterm elections approach: GOP congressional candidates who were present for the Jan. 6 riot — some of whom participated in it.
"Those candidates' ties to the Jan. 6 attack are the latest headache — and in some cases, potential political liability — for House Republicans as they deal with fallout from the Trump-led rally that metastasized into a coup attempt," Politico reports. "It's impossible to know how many of the GOP's still-growing crop of candidates this cycle took part in the riot. But Democrats are already preparing to lean into the issue of Trump-linked extremism within the Republican ranks, which they're betting will hurt the GOP in key battleground districts next fall."
At least three known GOP congressional candidates were reportedly present at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Daniel Orden, a "prized GOP recruit" from Wisconsin, has tried to distance himself from the insurrection, saying he left Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally when violence erupted — even though a photo appears to show him in a restricted area. Meanwhile, Teddy Daniels of Pennsylvania posted a video from near the Capitol steps with the caption "I Am Here. God Bless Our Patriots," and Tina Forte of New York — who is vying to unseat Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — posed for a photo wearing black body armor and displayed a white power hand gesture.
Thus far, the National Republican Congressional Committee has declined to condemn the candidates.
GOP Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who leads the NRCC, referred to those who attended the "Stop the Steal" rally as "patriots," adding: "The beauty of this country is that anybody who wants to run for office can. ... I want as many people as possible who share our values to step up and be the voice and run for office."
NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams added: "Chairman Emmer has made it clear — and still believes — anyone who broke the law needs to be held accountable ... Unlike Democrats, we believe the voters will ultimately make these decisions, not dictators in Washington."