“From Public Wise’s perspective, [their] goal was to silence the voice of voters,” Public Wise co-founder and executive director Christina Baal-Owens tells Pittsburgh City Paper. Many of the politicians in the Insurrection Index are currently running for re-election, which Public Wise says is cause for serious concern.
“We really are sounding the alarm on the fact that these are far-right, white supremacists, who are running for offices like Congress, who are running for State Senate, who are running for governor, who are running for school board,” Baal-Owens says.
“We are one, maybe two elections away from a constitutional crisis over election subversion,” Marc Elias, whose organization, The Elias Law Group, provides legal advice and support to the Insurrection Index, told The Guardian. “If we don’t recognize who was behind the attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, then next time we will be less prepared and it may succeed.”
Pennsylvania is one of Public Wise’s strategic targets. Beyond its electoral significance in presidential election cycles, Public Wise has identified 16 individuals currently running for elected office in Pennsylvania who participated in some way in the Jan. 6 insurrection, which the organization says was held "to disrupt the official Congressional proceedings certifying the 2020 election results."
The index includes Pa. politicians such as Charlie Gerow, who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and Sam DeMarco III, an at-large member of the Allegheny County Council, the chair of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, and a member of the Allegheny County Board of Elections, because both, as the Wisconsin Examiner reports, signed fraudulent elector certificates falsely claiming that Donald Trump was the rightful recipient of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes.
Baal-Owens says that Pennsylvania is among states with a “higher density” of "insurrectionists" this election cycle and has a notable number of those seeking high-level offices. “There are people running, essentially, at every level," she adds.
Although she says it’s important to keep the people on the list out of public office in the coming election cycle, Baal-Owens wants to encourage progressive voters to take a longer-term perspective with a generational view of political change.
“These are the people who will be deciding, now, who will have the right to choose because that's going down to state legislatures, how elections are run, who can vote, what you need to show to be able to vote, the barriers to voting, what's taught in schools, how taxpayer dollars are used,” she says. “So we really are in a long-term fight to make sure that these folks … don't have this kind of control and access to taxpayer dollars to execute their agenda.”