(NEXSTAR) — Republican leaders on Sunday left open the possibility of contesting GOP losses in the midterms, suggesting that while candidates should accept the results, they should also do so after exhausting the challenges available to them.
When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash whether every Republican candidate will accept election results even if they lose, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said they would but then suggested candidates should address anything deemed problematic.
“So, simple yes or no, should Republican candidates, [Sen.] Ron Johnson, all of them, accept election results?” Bash asked McDaniel.
“Listen, you should have a recount. You should have a canvas. And it’ll go to the courts, and then everybody should accept the results. That’s what it should be,” McDaniel responded.
“But I’m also not going to say, if there’s problems, that we shouldn’t be able to address that. If there’s real problems, everyone should be able to address that. And I think Ron Johnson and Stacey Abrams, in the end, once all their avenues are exhausted, right, they will — they will accept the results,” she added.
Sen. Rick Scott, (R-Fla.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, echoed similar sentiments on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Scott told moderator Chuck Todd that while candidates will “absolutely” accept the results, they would do so if the election is determined to be “free and fair.”
“Are you going to accept the results of all the Senate elections on Tuesday night?” Todd asked Scott.
“Absolutely. But what we’re also going to do is do everything we can to make sure they’re free and fair, and if there’s any shenanigans, we are ready to make sure. We support our candidates to make sure that these elections are fair and every ballot is counted the right way,” Scott responded.
Abrams, who is mounting another bid for Georgia governor against incumbent Brian Kemp, said during the candidates’ final debate last week that she would accept the results of that election but Republicans regularly scoff at her suggestions of voter suppression in the state due to a GOP-crafted election law.
Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams in the state’s gubernatorial race in 2018, but Abrams refused to concede citing a “rigged” system, accusing Kemp of suppressing votes.
Johnson, whose lead on Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes has dwindled down to a 2 to 4 point advantage, on Saturday expressed doubt that he would outright accept the election result if he loses, alleging that Democrats would meddle in the race.
“I sure hope I can, but I can’t predict what the Democrats might have planned,” Johnson said. “It sure seems like there’s an awful lot of, in the past, a lot of attempts on the part of Democrats to make it easier to cheat.”
“We want to make it easy to vote but very hard to cheat,” Johnson added.
McDaniel, after listening to Johnson suggest Democrats might meddle in the elections, said “we’re going to pursue problems.”
She gave an example where voters in Virginia last year were not allowed to cast a ballot if they were not wearing a face mask, which she said was not a state statute.
“So, because of our lawyers that we had on the ground, we quickly called the election officials in the state of Virginia, and we got that fixed. But we need to have that ability to fix it. And every election is run differently at the county level, at the precinct level,” McDaniel said. “So we want to make sure it’s run fair and transparently.”