Jerry Kremer

Of course 2024 will be on this year’s ballot


In case you haven’t heard, there is an election on Nov. 8. Most elections are about the current candidates, who are seeking a variety of offices all over America. This one, however, will be the equivalent of two elections, because its results may determine whether the 2024 election will be the end of democracy as we know it. Some of you may think this is overdramatic, but there are good reasons to view this one as a political twofer.
Many of us New Yorkers are oblivious to what is taking place all over the country. One sage veteran of the partisan wars once told me that “America begins west of the Hudson River.” Nothing could be more accurate. Our local contests for Congress are dominated by such issues as abortion, inflation and crime, with scant mention of stolen elections and threats to the Constitution, even though a few of the Republican candidates are election deniers or members of the Trump cult.
But if you lived in Michigan or Arizona, you would understand why their elections will decide whether democracy lives or dies in 2024. As of now, there are almost 300 Republican candidates nationwide who maintain that Joe Biden was never legitimately elected president. They believe the lie about the stolen 2020 election, but there is much more happening that we should all worry about.
There are two positions in a state that have the power to throw out a public vote. One is governor, and the other is secretary of state. There are a number of Republicans running for governor who also deny Biden’s election. They have publicly stated that if elected they will “fix” the system by taking power away from local election boards. Doug Mastriano, the GOP candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, has pledged flat out that if former President Donald Trump runs again and loses Pennsylvania, Mastriano will reverse the final results.
It is widely accepted that most of the incumbent secretaries of state around the country are independent and fair-minded. Not one of them has challenged the 2020 results, and they have staunchly defended their process from partisan attacks. But sadly, many of them have either retired, are planning to or have lost their jobs in primary contests, won by the election crazies. If the deniers win in six of the key states, they will have the power to potentially reverse the national election tally two years from now.

Another factor that bodes ill for America is the quality of the roster of Republicans running for the U.S. Senate. It is hard to imagine that Georgia’s Herschel Walker could be sitting in a body that once boasted the likes of Everett Dirksen, Lyndon Johnson and Pat Moynihan. Can you envision Sen. Mitch McConnell walking over to Senator Walker and saying, “Herschel, how do you feel about nuclear disarmament?”
Walker’s race, in which he has his party’s full support, is about power, and not about electing qualified candidates.
The platforms of a number of Republicans in key races around the country are scary. Many, such as Mastriano, pledge to restore “Christian values” to governing. He has used veiled antisemitic themes against Josh Shapiro, his opponent. U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, states that the church should be running the government. Blake Masters, a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, scrubbed his website to remove mentions of a national abortion ban and references to Christian themes.
The use of crime as an issue by Republicans around the country is more than just a statement about criminals. It is a return to the dominant theme of the 1988 presidential election, when the party ran an ad campaign featuring a photo of convicted murderer Willie Horton that helped Vice President George H.W. Bush defeat the Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis, who was portrayed as soft on crime. And in many Republican campaigns, there are frequent references to billionaire George Soros, a major Democratic contributor, his very name serving as antisemitic code words.
Some political observers say that the tone of the Republican campaigns is just what a normal campaign should be like. But if the candidates who promise to overturn election results win and remake the fabric of our nation, the 2024 election will have been decided two years in advance.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?