The Trump years have helped the GOP become more extreme. Watch out for these Republican candidates eager to make everything worse.

By Igor Derysh, AlterNet

The Trump era saw a far-right takeover of the Republican Party. But the Big Lie and the fallout from the Capitol riot last January threaten to move the party even further into the extremist fringe after the 2022 midterms.

Republicans have long inched toward extremist positions on issues like immigration, women’s rights and gun rights but Donald Trump’s election helped mainstream racist, xenophobic and white nationalist forces. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arguably one of the most effective conservative political figures in recent history, has increasingly been cast as a RINO (“Republican in Name Only”) while the once-fringe House Freedom Caucus has grown massively to become a leading force in Washington. Longtime conservatives like former House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ran for the hills while conspiracy theorists like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., became the faces of the new MAGA wing of the GOP.

Republican threat

Though the majority of the House Republican caucus voted to back Trump’s Big Lie and tried to block the certification of President Biden’s victory after the deadly Capitol riot, Trump and his allies wasted no time in launching a revenge tour, with the explicit aim of purging lawmakers seen as insufficiently loyal, while his supporters in state legislatures around the country seek to make it easier to overturn the next election. With Democrats facing a difficult if not impossible task of keeping the House despite plummeting approval ratings, the next wave of Republican freshmen could be the scariest yet – and may pose a true threat to democracy as we know it.

Kari Lake — Arizona governor

After failing to convince outgoing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to help him overturn his election loss, Trump is backing a largely unknown conspiracy theorist, who vowed she would not have certified Biden’s win, to replace Ducey. Lake, a longtime Arizona news anchor with no political experience, has even demanded that election officials “decertify” the election results, which is not legally possible. Lake, who is also backed by election conspiracists Mike Lindell and Michael Flynn and Capitol riot-linked Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., has called for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (who is also a gubernatorial candidate this year), to be imprisoned for unspecified election crimes. Trump has also praised Lake for opposing COVID restrictions, “cancel culture,” and “woke” school curriculums, all issues likely to dominate the next cycle of Republican primaries and beyond. Trump’s endorsement catapulted Lake atop the race, where she leads former Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., by more than a two-to-one margin.

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