LANSING, Mich. — Republican voters in the battleground state of Michigan aren't ready to move past the last election, say the GOP candidates vying for an open seat in the state Senate in the next one.
In an Aug. 3 special election, seven Republicans are seeking their party's nomination in the most GOP-leaning Senate district in Macomb County, a swing county that former President Donald Trump won twice. Most of the candidates agreed in interviews this week that election integrity was among the top issues in the primary race with the majority listing it as the main subject they're hearing about from voters on the campaign trail.
"'What in the hell are you doing about it?'" Rep. Doug Wozniak, a Republican, said one voter recently asked him of election security.
The primary race in the 8th state Senate district is important not only because the winner likely will be the favorite to fill one of 38 seats in the chamber but it also will provide a window into the views of Michigan GOP voters in an area that was key for Trump.
The race features two sitting state House members, Wozniak and Rep. Pamela Hornberger, a Republican, and five others, some of whom argue legislators in Lansing haven't done enough to stand up against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and to investigate unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential vote.
"I think you need to do a better job to make sure your constituents feel they are represented," said Terence Mekoski, another candidate in the race and the unsuccessful GOP nominee for Macomb County sheriff last year.
Five of the six candidates interviewed by The Detroit News this week said they supported a new audit of the 2020 election. Only Hornberger didn't commit to the idea, saying it would depend on what evidence of fraud comes forward in the state.
"We already had an audit," said Hornberger, referring to more than 200 audits performed by local election officials in Michigan.
Democrat Joe Biden beat Trump by 154,000 votes in Michigan in the 2020 election. The reviews by local election officials, a series of court rulings, bipartisan boards of canvassers and an investigation by the GOP-controlled state Senate Oversight Committee have upheld the result.
However, Mekoski said most voters he talks with in the district think there was fraud in the election. And Wozniak said the idea that there was fraud is still prevalent.