Only 13 of 143 GOP congressional candidates in Texas — or fewer than 10 percent — have said the results of the 2020 presidential election were legitimate, according to a new report from the Houston Chronicle.
"Even outside the conservative strongholds, GOP candidates across the state are calling for large-scale audits or otherwise casting doubt on the outcome of the election as they battle for votes," the newspaper reported Wednesday. "Candidates in nearly every competitive race across the state have raised questions about the validity of the 2020 election or said outright that it was stolen, despite widespread evidence to the contrary and the overwhelming failure of Trump and his allies to overturn the results in court."
Two Texas GOP congressional candidates, Alma Arredondo-Lynch and Sam Montoya, participated in the Capitol insurrection. And former president Donald Trump's "big lie" has fueled GOP primary challenges against four of the five incumbent Texas Republican House members who voted to certify the results of the election. Those incumbents include high-profile Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who recently told GOP activists they were "kidding themselves" if they think the election was stolen.
Milam Langella, one of the Republicans challenging Crenshaw, told the Chronicle: “It appears that well over 50,000 people who attended the Trump rally (last month in Texas) would agree that this last election was very questionable. My duty as a congressman will be to not just vote conservatively, but to do what I can to kick over the ant hill, and fix what happened in 2020, as ugly as it might be.”
The Chronicle's parent company, Hearst Newspapers, sent questions about the election and searched campaign websites and social media pages for all 143 Republicans running for Congress, according to the report.
"Of the 86 with discernible stances, at least 42 have said outright that the 2020 election was stolen, called the results illegitimate or said they would have voted not to certify," the Chronicle reports. "Another 11 candidates have said there was enough fraud or irregularities to cast doubt on the results of the election. Just 13 said the results were legitimate."
The newspaper called the issue "a key litmus test for measuring a candidate's fealty to Trump."
Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser told the Chronicle: “Every candidate is having to navigate these waters as best they can in terms of what they believe, what they feel like they can say publicly, and then the cost-benefit analysis of doing it."
Joshua Blank serves as research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, where polling has shown that 67 percent of Republican voters in the state don't believe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.
“The belief in widespread voter fraud is becoming the article of faith among Republicans," Blank said, calling it “a dimension of the major driving issue of Republican primaries in 2022 — and that issue is, is there any daylight between you and the former president?”
“It’s not necessarily about voting per se, but the extent to which these candidates can present themselves as on the president’s team,” Blank said.
The newspaper pointed to a recent debate among GOP candidates in the "MAGA-friendly" 8th Congressional District near Houston, where Republican Rep. Kevin Brady is retiring. Within 10 minutes, the three GOP candidates on stage reached a consensus that the election was stolen.
“We’ve seen across the board, the Democrats have always cheated,” said candidate Jonathan Hullihan, a former judge advocate general in the Navy. “81 million votes for Joe Biden? I just don’t believe it.”