GOP in Iowa Believes 'Stolen' Election Theory, Senator Says Amid State Extremism Concerns

Republican senators in Iowa largely believe the baseless conspiracy theory that Joe Biden won the presidency through electoral fraud, according to one state lawmaker who spoke in favor of new voting curbs on Tuesday.

Sen. Jim Carlin—a Republican who recently announced his plan to run for the U.S. Senate—on Tuesday listed several results from November's election that he believes show there was fraud to help defeat former President Donald Trump.

There remains no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have affected the outcome. Trump's campaign team and others brought at least 86 legal challenges against the result, all of which failed.

But this hasn't stopped Republican lawmakers across the country adopting the conspiracy theory, wielding it as a political cudgel against democratic norms and a tool to vilify the Democratic Party.

"Most of us in my caucus and the Republican caucus believe the election was stolen," Carlin said on Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register. The remarks came as senators debated GOP-proposed new voting restrictions, which eventually passed 30-18 along party lines.

Every Republican backed the measures, which will reduce Election Day voting by an hour and create a stricter deadline for returning absentee ballots if approved, as expected, by the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives and governor's office.

Newsweek has contacted Carlin for comment.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, Jeff Kaufmann, told Newsweek: "President Biden's victory was certified by Congress, Biden has been sworn in and there has been a peaceful transition of power. States need to make sure voters have trust in their elections processes."

There is national concern at the apparent slide of state GOP lawmakers and bodies towards conspiracy theories and far-right extremism. National GOP leaders have broken with Trump over his baseless claims of electoral fraud, but the conspiracy theory appears to be finding fertile ground among state GOP bodies and the Republican voter base.

At the state and national level, Republican lawmakers are now peddling conspiracy theories about the election, about the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and about their elected colleagues across the aisle.

In Michigan, for example, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mike Shirkey is standing by his false claims that the January 6 Capitol attack was a "hoax" to discredit Trump and the GOP. And in Oregon, new state GOP chair Sen. Dallas Heard has repeatedly expressed support for far-right protesters laying siege to the state capitol in Salem.

In Iowa, Democratic lawmakers framed Republican rhetoric on Tuesday as a political ploy to disenfranchise voters and cement GOP control of the state.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, responding to Carlin, said: "Give me a break ...The reason some people have lost faith or are losing faith in our elections, it's that Republicans have manufactured, fostered and encouraged [it] through silence and conspiracy theories and cult behavior."

This article has been updated to include comment from the Iowa GOP.

Iowa capitol in Des Moines file photo
This file photo shows the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on October 9, 2019. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty