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Government/Politics

Why Donald Trump's endorsement of Frank LaRose is attracting attention

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Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, discussing election preparation.

In the hours leading up to his rally this past weekend in Delaware, former President Donald Trump endorsed, among others, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Trump has made false claims about the 2020 election being stolen and advanced conspiracy theories about voting on social media. LaRose, the state’s chief elections official has ridden a tough line to get Trump’s endorsement.

After the November 2020 election, Trump's Twitter feed was full of falsehoods about the election. Many of his false comments were cited by people who were trying to prevent the election of President Joe Biden from being certified.

In fact, Twitter permanently suspended Trump from the platform just two days after the January 6 insurrection "due to the risk of further incitement of violence." To be clear, Trump wasn't the only person who was making false and sometimes dangerous statements. Twitter also pulled other accounts. But the action against Trump got the most attention.

A month later, in February 2020, LaRose criticized Trump and other key figures who cast unfounded doubt on the accuracy of U.S. elections.

“It is irresponsible to fearmonger about elections administration. Doesn’t matter who you are," said LaRose. "And certainly, if you have the largest megaphone in the world, you should think very carefully before you say something that would cause people to lose faith in elections."

LaRose has praised Ohio’s 2020 election, which Trump won by eight percentage points, as a success. But he hasn’t fully denounced Trump’s false 2020 election claims.

In February, LaRose tweeted that Trump is right to say voter fraud is a serious problem, but also announced 27 potential cases of voter fraud of nearly 6 million Ohio votes cast in November 2020.

LaRose, who is on the May 3 primary ballot, did not speak at Trump's rally Saturday. He is facing a primary challenge from other candidates including former state representative John Adams. But Trump told the crowd he was endorsing LaRose who "did a fabulous job on redistricting." Constitutional Ohio legislative redistricting maps have yet to be drawn by the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission, on which LaRose is a member. That means those races are not included on the May 3 ballot. Another election to allow voters to decide those races will need to be held later this summer.

A federal court has told the Republican dominated commission that if it doesn't come up with constitutional maps by May 28th, it will allow the third set of maps, which has already been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court, to be used for the next four years.

Democrats and others who believe the commission hasn't met redistricting reforms approved by Ohio voters say that third set of maps is unfair because it unduly favors Republicans.

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