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We apologize for endorsing U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, who wants to overturn the election | Editorial

We apologize to our readers for endorsing Michael Waltz in the 2020 general election for Congress.

We had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy.

During our endorsement interview with the incumbent congressman, we didn’t think to ask, “Would you support an effort to throw out the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump?”

Our bad.

Trust us, some variation of that question will be asked of anyone running for Congress in the future, particularly Republican candidates whose party is attempting to upend the way we choose a president.

Waltz, to our horror, was one of the 10 Florida Republican members of Congress who, on Thursday, signed up to support a lawsuit brought by Texas in the U.S. Supreme Court that attempted to throw out the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — all states where Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden.

Instead, Texas argued those states’ legislatures — which conveniently are controlled by Republicans — should appoint a slate of electors to the Electoral College.

On Friday evening, the Supreme Court showed the courage and reason those House lawmakers lacked and rejected the lawsuit, saying Texas didn’t have a legal standing to even bring the case.

The Texas lawsuit had been based on allegations of fraud and unconstitutional behavior that have been alleged in dozens of lawsuits since the Nov. 3 election, and dismissed in federal and state courts of law. By one count the Trump legal challenges have one win and 56 losses in court.

Trump’s own lawyers have admitted before judges that their cases aren’t about fraud. U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said the Department of Justice hadn’t uncovered anything that would alter the election’s outcome.

Before the court’s ruling on Friday, Nebraska’s Republican Sen. Ben Sasse called the Texas lawsuit a “PR stunt.” Texas Sen. John Cornyn is puzzled by the suit’s legal theory. Former Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted, “This is crazy.” Other Republicans are aghast their party would support a lawsuit that amounts to an assault on states’ rights in conducting elections.

Never mind all that, Waltz and 125 fellow Republican House members said. They wanted to undo 231 years of election tradition and norms so their guy, Donald Trump, can have another four years in office. And so the president won’t send out a mean tweet that might torpedo their chances for reelection.

Waltz told the Daytona Beach News Journal, “For those who are saying this is threatening democracy, I think ignoring them (voting irregularities) or sweeping them under the rug is bad for our democracy and restoring the confidence by working through these issues is what’s good for a democracy.”

If Waltz was paying attention, he would understand those alleged irregularities haven’t been ignored by the courts, nor by the states, nor by the Department of Justice. They simply haven’t stood up to scrutiny.

The cowardly betrayal of American ideals by the gang of 10 Florida congressmen was preceded on Wednesday by 17 Republican state attorneys general — Florida’s Ashley Moody included, of course — joining in the Texas lawsuit.

Most legal experts didn’t think the Supreme Court would go along with Texas and its accomplices. And they were right, though we had hoped the court would offer a more decisive rebuke to this partisan attack on the same U.S. Constitution that Waltz and his fellow Republicans swore to uphold.

Our nation has been teetering on the edge of constitutional disaster, thanks to the likes of Waltz and the Florida members of Congress who also signed up to support the lawsuit brought by Texas: Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Ross Spano, Daniel Webster and Ted Yoho.

We didn’t endorse Webster, whose district includes Lake County, in part because he gave up his bridge-building shtick long ago to become a rank partisan. His name on this document is no surprise.

But we supported Waltz over his opponent — Democrat Clint Curtis, a fairly dismal candidate — in the November general election, partly because Waltz had established a strong working relationship with fellow U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat. It was encouraging to see members of different parties trying to find common ground.

We were impressed this year, as we were in 2018, with Waltz’s seeming pragmatism, though less impressed with his willingness to crash a congressional hearing during Trump’s impeachment proceedings.

We should have taken that hyperpartisan, juvenile lapse in judgment more seriously, given it more weight. Because it really was a red flag, a sign that Waltz’s loyalty isn’t to the Constitution but to a president whose flaws are deep, profound and dangerous.

So is Waltz — dangerous. Had the Supreme Court gone along with this gambit he supported, and cast aside the votes of Americans in four states, the resulting civil upheaval could have been disastrous. It could have taken generations for the nation to recover.

We don’t pretend that our endorsement in Waltz’s District 6 race had much influence. The four-county district is heavily Republican, and Curtis never really had a chance.

But endorsements also serve as a way to take stock of a candidate’s values and beliefs.

We now know what we didn’t then — that Waltz, a U.S. Army Green Beret who served his country, is willing to undermine the nation to ensure his political party remains in control of the White House.

Every American should be appalled at the attempted usurpation, and at elected officials taking part in this terrifying fiasco and violating their oath to protect the country from enemies, foreign and domestic.

Everyone who supported Michael Waltz for Congress should feel a deep sense of remorse and regret.

We do.


(This editorial was updated to reflect a larger number of House members who signed onto the Texas lawsuit — 126 — including Bill Posey, who became the 10th U.S. representative from Florida to do so. It also was updated to reflect the Supreme Court’s decision Friday night.)

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