Paper apologizes for endorsing congressman backing election overturn

Rep. Michael Waltz speaks during a campaign rally with people sitting behind him.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) speaks before President Trump during a campaign rally at the Ocala International Airport in Ocala, Fla., on Oct. 16.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)

A Florida newspaper apologized Friday for endorsing the reelection of a Republican congressman who supported a lawsuit that tried to have the Supreme Court overthrow the will of the voters in the presidential election.

The Orlando Sentinel in an editorial said “to its horror,” U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz was one of 126 Republican representatives who supported a Texas lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that wants to deprive President-elect Joe Biden of his victory in last month’s election and give a second term to President Trump. The Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit Friday night.

The Sentinel’s editorial board had endorsed its local congressman’s successful bid for a second term.


“We had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy,” the paper wrote Friday. Nine other Florida representatives also signed on to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin’s voting laws created “unconstitutional irregularities” that have “cast doubt” on the 2020 outcome and “the integrity of the American system of elections.”

Led by Texas and joined by President Trump, Republican state attorneys general had asked the Supreme Court to overturn Joe Biden’s victory by nullifying votes in four states.

Dec. 11, 2020

A majority of voters in the four states chose Biden, flipping their results from 2016 and giving him his margin of victory in Monday’s upcoming electoral college vote. Texas had wanted those results discarded.

The lawsuit rested on numerous unfounded claims that had been rejected in dozens of lawsuits, including by judges appointed by Trump. Atty. Gen. William Barr told the Associated Press last week there is no evidence of fraud that would have changed the election result.

“During our endorsement interview with the incumbent congressman, we didn’t think to ask, ‘Would you support an effort to throw out the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump?’” the Sentinel wrote. “Our bad.”

It said such questions will be asked in the future, particularly of Republicans.

Waltz, the first Army Green Beret elected to Congress, told the Daytona Beach News Journal, “For those who are saying this is threatening democracy, I think ignoring them [voting irregularities] or sweeping them under the rug is bad for our democracy and restoring the confidence by working through these issues is what’s good for a democracy.”


The Sentinel replied: “If Waltz was paying attention, he would understand those alleged irregularities haven’t been ignored by the courts, nor by the states, nor by the Department of Justice. They simply haven’t stood up to scrutiny.”