Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher, who has not yet recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect, will take care of that order of business in time. And, assuming that Biden is the president who takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Fulcher is talking about putting extra effort into building a working relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris.
“She’ll be the one running things,” Fulcher says.
He’s joking … well, not totally. Harris may end up in charge at some point, but there’s not much chance of Fulcher making inroads with a Biden administration. Before anything occurs, Fulcher says there’s more business to tend to regarding this year’s election – one in which Republicans fared well overall, especially in House races.
“It was a Republican election,” Fulcher says. He’s convinced there was fraud in this election and that President Trump has a legitimate case. The question is whether there was enough fraud to change the outcome.
“I doubt it,” Fulcher says. “Nobody is going to tell Donald Trump what to do, and I will not be getting a phone call from him for counsel. But if I were in that position, I’d be saying, ‘stand up for yourself, keep the legal challenges out there and bring as much of this to light as possible.’ Shining a light should not hurt anybody. There is not a downside to exposing fraud.”
It won’t be resolved by Jan. 20, but in Fulcher’s view there are legitimate long-term issues that should be open for discussion. The president has a different objective – overturning the results of the election and using his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to argue that case. The Trump team has claimed widespread fraud on multiple fronts and has taken aim on a Dominion software company with alleged ties to former Venezuela dictator Hugo Chavez and the left-wing movement, Antifa.
On the flip side, Chris Krebs – the fired Homeland Security cyber chief – proclaimed this election was the most secure in American history. Fulcher says the media reports might not be entirely correct.
“I met with him, and that’s not the impression I got,” Fulcher says. “I think he was referring to outside interference, in which case I think he was right. But I don’t think he was talking about internally.”
Fulcher doesn’t need to go far to hear stories about internal problems. His Meridian office is located in city hall, where early voting was conducted. Along the way, people told his staff about receiving mailed ballots from old addresses in other states.
“I also found out that Joe Frazier (the legendary boxing champion) cast his ballot. He’s been dead for nine years,” Fulcher says. “So, I know for a fact that fraud is happening. The point that Republican leadership is making is that we have to flag as many of these flaws as we can. If the system isn’t changed, then there is not going to be another Republican elected as president for a long time.”
The target for Republicans is vote-by-mail. My sisters in Washington State, both Republicans, love vote-by-mail because of the convenience. But Republicans contend that vote-by-mail gives a distinct advantage to Democrats while opening the door for fraud.
“People such as Sens. (Marco) Rubio, (Tim) Scott and (Ted) Cruz – who want to do this job at some point (president) know that if the system doesn’t change, the chance of them doing that job are very low,” Fulcher says. “I have no problem with absentee voting, but mailing ballots to anybody and everybody is an invitation for corruption.”
Only so much can be done within the next couple of months, short of the U.S. Supreme Court voiding the election and giving Trump four more years in the White House. In the meantime, Fulcher says, it’s worth having the conversation about vote-by-mail and other election issues.
“This thing called politics is an ongoing struggle that never ends. There is not a goal line as there are in other professions,” Fulcher said. “In the end, we all our struggling for a more perfect union and a better system. I don’t think it is broken. It’s flawed, but it has always been flawed.”
If Trump happens to win out, then it would be safe to say that our election system is broken – perhaps beyond repair.
Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org