'coming out of the woodwork'
An army of conspiracy-minded Trump supporters are moving to influence and run the Republican Party at a local level, galvanized — at least initially — by none other than former Trump adviser and far-right nationalist Stephen Bannon, ProPublica reports.
In February 2021, Bannon told his podcast listeners of the "precinct strategy," in which Trump voters could take control of the GOP by flooding "into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts," ProPublica writes. Precinct officers are typically in charge of routine, administrative tasks, but collectively, "can influence how elections are run." In some states, they even have a say in the selection of poll workers and election board members.
"We're going to take this back village by village ... precinct by precinct," said Bannon to his listeners.
Since then, according to ProPublica analysis, GOP leaders in 41 out of 65 key counties have reported "an unusual increase" in precinct officer sign-ups, amounting to at least 8,500 new, low-level Republican officials. There was no equivalent surge found when analyzing Democratic positions.
"I've never seen anything like this, people are coming out of the woodwork," said J.C. Martin, the GOP chairman in Polk County, Florida. Martin said he has added 50 new committee members since January, per ProPublica. Such a wave is "way beyond" that seen with the Tea Party years ago, he added.
It is "impossible to know the motivations of each new recruit," notes ProPublica, but party officials do attribute the sign-ups to Bannon's podcast. Notably, the War Room host did not invent the precinct strategy, but instead "plucked [it] out of obscurity" via an Arizona Tea Party activist, Daniel Schultz. Schultz later appeared on Bannon's podcast, telling listeners, "We'll lose [the republic] if we conservatives don't take over the Republican Party." Read more at ProPublica.