How Republicans Are Weaponizing Critical Race Theory Ahead of Midterms

In July, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia, promised to abolish critical race theory on “day one” in office. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, facing re-election next year, said recently, “I want to make sure people are not supporting critical race theory.” And in Arizona, Blake Masters, a Republican hoping to unseat Senator Mark Kelly in 2022, has repeatedly slammed critical race theory as “anti-white racism.”

In some places, the tone of school board opponents has become angry and threatening, so much so that the National School Boards Association went so far as to ask President Biden for federal law enforcement protection.

Few places will be more closely watched in the midterm elections than Wisconsin, a swing state that Mr. Biden won by just over 20,600 votes and where Republicans would like to retain control of the Senate seat currently held by Ron Johnson, as well as to defeat Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat.

To succeed, Republicans must solidify support in suburban Milwaukee, an area of historical strength for the party. Recently, though, Democrats have made inroads in Ozaukee County, and particularly its largest city, Mequon, a mostly white enclave north of Milwaukee. President Trump won the city with only 50.2 percent of the vote — a poor showing that contributed to his Wisconsin defeat in 2020.

Now, with midterms on the horizon, prospective statewide candidates — including Ms. Kleefisch, Senator Johnson and the relative political newcomer Kevin Nicholson — have emphasized their opposition to critical race theory.

Senator Johnson, who has not announced whether he will seek re-election, has talked about the importance of local elections as a prelude to next year’s midterms. He recently urged constituents: “Take back our school boards, our county boards, our city councils.”

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