“The survival of U.S. democracy may hinge on this decision by Pa.’s next governor”

Will Bunch column in the Philly Inquirer:

Pennsylvania — the closest battleground state with the most electoral votes, where the election was called for Biden last November — is a powerful example of exactly what the Trump scheme to unwind American democracy looks like. In Harrisburg, Republican legislative leaders — after weeks of lobbying and browbeating by Trump himself — are plowing ahead with their unpopular plan to yet again review (definitely NOT an audit) the 2020 outcome, which involves handing over my personal data and that of 9 million other voters to an unknown but probably dodgy vendor. Again, the medium — creating chaos — is the message.

The Democratic state attorney general, Josh Shapiro, has seized on this abuse of personal data in filing a lawsuit seeking to stop the GOP probe before it gets off the ground. That’s the right thing to do on Shapiro’s part, but it’s not the most important thing the Montgomery County politico can do to save democracy, in either America or its Keystone State. Shapiro is also the presumed front-runner to become his party’s nominee for governor. If he wins, he will pick the next secretary of state — and thwart a key element of Trump’s scheme.

If the GOP wins Pennsylvania’s open 2022 gubernatorial race to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf — and the governor’s mansion has flipped parties without fail since the 1960s — then the secretary of state pick will be made by a Republican who will surely have to curry favor with Trump to get through a crowded primary. One of the front-runners is a mirror image of Arizona’s Finchem — State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who organized buses to Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 and was photographed near the insurrection. If Mastriano or one of several other Trump-crazed candidates wins the general election, it’s a lock that Pennsylvania’s 48th governor will name a secretary of state who will work feverishly to restrict voting rights in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, and — if Trump gets fewer votes, again — cast doubt on the outcome, or work to simply ignore the results, as would be expected in a dictatorship.

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