As Republican members ofÂ Congress attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, a group of Ohioans plans to bus to the nation’s capitalÂ early Wednesday morning to back the long-shot effort to keep President Donald Trump in the White House.
They won’t be counting on a vote from Sen. Rob Portman, though, after the Cincinnati Republican said Monday that he won’t be among those objecting to the certification of Electoral College results that show Democratic President-elect Joe Biden as the winner.
Trump’s campaign has filed dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn the results, and the president has peddled baseless claims of election fraud since losing the election.
Wednesday’s vote in Congress is expected to be a last stand, with Trump allies on Capitol Hill objecting to the results in key states the president lost.
Although Portman will not join those objections, the offices of Congressman Bob GibbsÂ confirmed on Monday that he would be among possibly more than 100 members of the House of Representatives who object to the results.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a Republican from Rocky River,Â will not object, his office confirmed on Monday. Rep. Troy Balderson’s office declined to comment for this story, but the ZanesvilleÂ RepublicanÂ has not indicated that he would object. He recognized Biden as president-elect once the former vice president won the electoral college vote last month.
Other Republican members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation did not respond to requests for comment. Rep. Steve Stivers of Columbus also has recognized Biden as president-elect.
Last month, five Ohio GOP members of Congress joined more than 100 colleagues to support one of Trump’s lawsuits in Texas: Gibbs, Bob Latta of Bowling Green, Jim Jordan of Urbana;Â Bill Johnson of Marietta;Â andÂ Brad Wenstrup of Cincinnati.
â€œI think collectively youâ€™re seeing major fissures in the Republican establishment. You have this group of individuals who absolutely feel unheard,” said Melissa Ackison, a former candidate for the Ohio Senate who now leads the nonprofit dark money group Patriots for Ohio, which is organizing buses to take supporters to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Patriots for Ohio already has filled two buses slated to leave early Wednesday morning for the rally, she said.
Ackison said those attending the rally in support of overturning the election don’t trust media that have pointed out problems with voter fraud claims or courts that have rejected Trump’s lawsuits.
â€œI do not believe the president is going anywhere,” she said.
Tom Zawistowski, head of the We the People Convention and Portage County Tea Party, said he and his wife and some friends plan to drive to WashingtonÂ to participate in the protests, with many other like-minded Ohioans driving or taking buses.
â€œIâ€™m literally expecting this to be the largest protest of any kind in American history â€” there could be 2 million people there,â€ he said. â€œThereâ€™s a determination that Iâ€™ve not seen in my 11 years involved with this. … Weâ€™re going to just show our complete displeasure and frustration with the election that we just witnessed. Our presence is really to speak loudly to those who are in charge. … We demand that the election be looked at and then only legal votes counted and illegal votes thrown out.â€
Zawistowski voiced support for Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruzâ€™s proposal for the immediate creation of an electoral commission to review allegations of voter fraud and submit reports, within about 10 days, to state lawmakers.
A comparable commission was formed in 1877. If fraud is found, the latter could then re-send electors to finalizeÂ the presidential election, Zawistowski said.
He added that members of Congress have objected to the results of past elections. Wednesdayâ€™s congressional proceedings will provide a forum for evidence to be presented to the greater American public, he said.â€œEverything weâ€™re doing so far is constitutional,â€ Zawistowski said. â€œItâ€™s under the law. What Ted Cruz is proposing has happened before. … What weâ€™re asking people is just as simple question: Do you believe in the rule of law or donâ€™t you? Do you believe in fair elections or donâ€™t you?â€
In a prepared statement released Monday afternoon, Portman said that he stood in opposition when Democrats attempted to object to President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2005 and that he cannot now support Republicans doing the same thing.
â€œThe Constitution created a system for electing the president through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress. I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters,” Portman said in the prepared statement.
He went on: “I was concerned then that Democrats were establishing a dangerous precedent where Congress would inappropriately assert itself to try to reverse the will of the voters. I cannot now support Republicans doing the same thing.”
Portman was co-chair of Trump’s re-election campaign in Ohio, where the president won by more than 8 percentage points for the second time.
About a dozen GOP senators and a reportedÂ 100-plus members ofÂ the HouseÂ plan to object to certification of the results from the Electoral College on Wednesday, according to several media reports.
Jordan, a close ally of Trump who reportedly will receive the Medal of Freedom from the president, described the expected objection process during an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, repeating allegations of voter fraud that have not survived court considerations.
â€œWe have probably over a hundred House members who want to object to the various states, the six states in question, and then we have the 11 senators,â€ Jordan said.Â â€œLetâ€™s say we get to Georgia and thereâ€™s an objection from a House member and a senator, then each body will retire to their respective chamber, theyâ€™ll have a two-hour debate, thereâ€™ll be a vote, theyâ€™ll come back. If thereâ€™s a vote to object, to not accept, those electors from that respective state, then they wonâ€™t be accepted.â€
He added, â€œIf you go through that process and neither candidate has 270 electoral votes, then the Constitution is clear: Thereâ€™s a vote in the House of Representatives, done by delegations. … The ultimate arbiter here, the ultimate check and balance, is the United States Congress. … We have a duty to step forward and have this debate and have this vote on the 6th of January.â€
Absent an additional process for further review of election fraud allegations, Zawistowski said Biden likely will face challenges as the nationâ€™s chief executive, he said.
â€œIâ€™ve never seen the anger that I see now, ever,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s almost like a combination of COVID and the shutdowns … for the first time, so many millions of Americans are seeing government affect them in a way that they donâ€™t like. … That is a mixture for a type of resistance that we havenâ€™t seen since the Civil War.â€
He added later, â€œTo those who say we just donâ€™t want to accept the election and youâ€™re sore losers and all that, the fact is if the shoe were on the other foot, people would be burning the buildings down. Weâ€™re not doing that … (Joe Bidenâ€™s) not going to be able to govern when 75 million people think heâ€™s illegitimate.â€