Editorial: These California congressmen betrayed voters on Jan. 6

·4 min read
Editorial: These Californian congressmen betrayed voters on Jan. 6
Clockwise from top left: Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Corona), Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), Darrell Issa (R-Bonsall), Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake), Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale). (Associated Press)

As the nation absorbs the revelations from the congressional hearings on the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — among them, that then-President Trump was surrounded by aides telling him there was no evidence of voter fraud and that his scheme to have Vice President Mike Pence overturn the election results was illegal — voters must remember that 147 members of Congress were complicit in the attempted coup.

These eight senators and 139 House members were in the Capitol that day because voters elected them to run our representative democracy. And yet they outrageously defied the will of American voters by refusing to certify Joe Biden’s election. Voters must hold them to account for this betrayal.

When members of Congress gathered that day, Trump’s claims of rampant voter fraud had already been shown to be nonsense. The attorney general had uncovered no evidence of it. Dozens of judges had ruled against Trump allies in lawsuits challenging the election results. Two recounts in Georgia and another in Wisconsin had already affirmed Biden’s victory in those states.

So the one-quarter of the members of Congress who voted against certifying the electoral votes from Pennsylvania and/or Arizona made a conscious decision to amplify Trump’s "Big Lie." It is especially shameful that these members perpetuated Trump’s false narrative even while it propelled a violent mob to storm the Capitol.

Hearings now underway in Washington have only strengthened the case that Trump’s plot was nothing less than a multi-pronged attempt to overthrow a free and fair election. Anyone who participated in it is a threat to democracy and should not have a role in government.

Not all Republicans betrayed American voters by refusing to certify the election, but voters should send those that did packing. Among the 11 Republicans in California’s delegation, seven voted against certifying it. Six of them are seeking reelection this year (the seventh, Rep. Devin Nunes, resigned late last year):

Rep. Ken Calvert of Corona: The longest-serving California Republican in Congress, Calvert was elected in 1992 and represents a district based in Riverside County. He won 48% of the vote in this month’s primary and faces a credible reelection challenge in November. Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, is getting support from former Sen. Barbara Boxer in an effort to flip the seat.

Rep. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita: Elected in 2020 after Democratic Rep. Katie Hill resigned, Garcia has proved, in his short time in office, to be a Trump enabler and a threat to democracy. The race to represent this swing district that includes Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley will be one of the most competitive in the country as Garcia faces off against Democrat Christy Smith, a levelheaded centrist whom The Times has endorsed.

Rep. Darrell Issa of Bonsall: One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Issa has represented northern San Diego County for much of the last 20 years. He appears headed for an easy reelection this year, having received more than 60% of the vote in the primary.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa of Richvale: LaMalfa also seems poised for reelection, having received 57% of the primary vote in a rural, conservative district that stretches from the outskirts of Sacramento to the Oregon border.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield: As the House Republican leader, McCarthy is poised to become the speaker if the GOP wins control of the House this year. Though he said publicly in the days following the Jan. 6 attack that Trump “bears responsibility” for whipping up the Capitol attackers, he later changed his tune and has refused to cooperate with the committee investigating the attack. McCarthy is a powerhouse political fundraiser and won 59% support in the primary.

Rep. Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake: Trump endorsed Obernolte over his further-right opponent in 2020. Obernolte won more than 60% of the primary vote in his San Bernardino County-based district.

These congressmen put loyalty to Trump and his lies above allegiance to the American people and respect for the nation's rule of law. If voters don't hold them accountable for their shameful vote on Jan. 6, 2021, there's a risk they could facilitate more brazen attacks on democracy in the future.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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