One of Florida’s largest newspapers on Friday publicly apologized to its readers for endorsing the re-election of Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) after the congressman signed on to the Trump-backed Texas lawsuit seeking to overthrow the 2020 election.
The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board had “no idea” the lawmaker “was not committed to democracy,” they wrote in a lengthy mea culpa.
This week, amid a series of resounding defeats for Team Trump’s legal efforts to steal the election from President-elect Joe Biden, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a last-ditch lawsuit with the Supreme Court. The suit seeks to toss out the election results of four states that voted for Biden, claiming those states had unlawfully altered their voting laws.
Republicans quickly jumped aboard the brazen attempt to nullify millions of votes. After President Donald Trump and 17 attorneys general from states Trump won backed the lawsuit, 106 House Republicans signed on to the effort to overturn the results and hand the president a second term.
In its Friday op-ed, the Sentinel’s editorial board assailed Waltz for being one of the GOP lawmakers to sign his name to the brief.
“We apologize to our readers for endorsing Michael Waltz in the 2020 general election for Congress,” the board wrote. “We had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy.”
The editors went on to say “our bad” for not thinking about asking the congressman, during an endorsement interview, whether or not he’d support efforts to “throw out the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost.”
“Trust us, some variation of that question will be asked of anyone running for Congress in the future, particularly Republican candidates whose party is attempting to upend the way we choose a president,” they added.
After noting that several high-profile Republicans have called the lawsuit a “PR stunt” and “crazy,” the board explained why Waltz and other Trump allies are going along with the undemocratic attempt to keep Trump in the White House.
“Never mind all that, Waltz and 105 fellow Republican House members say. They want to undo 231 years of election tradition and norms so their guy, Donald Trump, can have another four years in office,” they stated. “And so the president won’t send out a mean tweet that might torpedo their chances for reelection.”
Acknowledging that the paper’s endorsement likely has little influence in the heavily Republican district, the board said it still serves as a way to weigh a candidate’s beliefs and values.
“Everyone who supported Michael Waltz for Congress should feel a deep sense of remorse and regret,” the op-ed concluded. “We do.”
The attorneys general from the four states targeted by Texas—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—have all since responded to the suit, asking the Supreme Court to reject the lawsuit while calling it a “seditious abuse of the judicial process.”