All five Republican gubernatorial hopefuls were asked the same first question during Wednesday evening's debate: "In your opinion, did President Biden win a constitutional majority in the electoral college?"
Not a single candidate expressed confidence in the long-certified results.
The debate, livestreamed by Alpha News, included five GOP gubernatorial hopefuls: Sen. Michelle Benson, Sen. Paul Gazelka, Dr. Scott Jensen, Mayor Mike Murphy and Dr. Neil Shah. After opening remarks, moderator Hugh Hewitt — a conservative talk show host and attorney — asked each participant the following:
"Did President Biden win a constitutional majority in the electoral college? If yes, how definitive is your conclusion, and if no, please explain which states you think are in dispute and why? This round of questioning begins at 10:17 in the livestream.
Each candidate had about 90 seconds to respond. All of them sowed doubt about the 2020 election results, despite Biden winning by 7 million individual votes and 74 electoral college votes. Here's a summary of each Republican's response, in the order they answered:
Jensen: "I can't know what I don't know. And I think we have to take that attitude toward 2020," he said, mentioning a Republican-led audit in Maricopa County that found zero discrepancies. Jensen also said there have been "enough shenanigans," adding it's time to address "election integrity." He also said he believes dead people voted.
Shah: Shah joked that, growing up in the Chicago suburbs, he can't tell anyone the last time that city had "a free and fair election." So it's not a problem "unique to 2020," he said.
Murphy: Murphy, the mayor of Lexington, said he believes there was voter fraud on a "massive scale" across the country in 2020, though acknowledged he can't "pinpoint the evidence' because he's not "privy to the scheme." He also cited a debunked Project Veritas video about the DFL primary in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District.
Gazelka: "I don't think the election was fair, but I do think we have the results that we have and the electroal college is the way that we determine the election," said the former Senate majority leader, who won re-election himself in 2020 but has not questioned the results. Gazelka added he is "not a big fan of how it all played out" and called for election reforms.
Benson: Benson initially did not answer Hewitt's question directly, saying only that "our job" is "to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat," later adding: "The more we watch, the less we cheat." Asked specifically in a follow-up if Biden won, she replied: "He was certified by Congress as having won the electoral college." Benson also won re-election in 2020 and has not questioned the results.
None of the candidates specifically explained which states' results they believe weren't valid.
There has been no evidence of any significant voter fraud in the 13 months since the election was held. An analysis published this week by The Associated Press found fewer than 475 ballots that were flagged as suspicious in six highly contested states — states Biden won by 311,257 combined votes. Meaning even if all 475 ballots were for Biden (they weren't), it wouldn't make any difference in the outcome.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has found a total of 1,334 instances of proven voter fraud over the past 41 years. Many of the cases involve allegations related to municipal races, not necessarily presidential races, with 86% having resulted in a criminal conviction. The site shows no cases in Minnesota tied to the 2020 election.