On October 11, Tulsi Gabbard proudly announced her departure from the Democratic Party. Calling on “fellow common sense independent-minded Democrats” to join her, Gabbard did not indicate where exactly she was going. Her recent activity gives enough of an idea.
The former Hawaii congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential contender has exclusively endorsed at least 12 Republican candidates across the country. Many of these races are high-stakes. Among Gabbard’s endorsements are several election-denialists and conspiracy theorists.
Less than a week after her announcement that she was leaving the Democratic Party, Gabbard endorsed Republican Don Bolduc in the New Hampshire Senate race. Threatening to unseat incumbent Senator Maggie Hassan, Bolduc is an election denialist who has repeatedly—and bizarrely—falsely claimed children are using litter boxes in schools. A day after that, Gabbard endorsed Republican Kari Lake, the conspiracy theorist and election denialist running for governor in Arizona.
Gabbard has also endorsed JD Vance against Tim Ryan in Ohio’s Senate race, Adam Laxalt against Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada’s Senate race, and Tudor Dixon against Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan’s gubernatorial election.
On Monday, Gabbard waded into the country’s most expensive House race, endorsing election denialist Tom Barrett in Michigan, rebuking Liz Cheney’s earlier endorsement of Democrat Elissa Slotkin.
On Wednesday, Gabbard tweeted a video endorsing Blake Masters, citing a need to “rein in big tech companies.” (Masters and Vance have both enjoyed financial support from the venture capital and technology industry they were a part of, including from tech billionaire Peter Thiel.) Also on Wednesday, Gabbard appeared at a rally for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who days earlier she had called her “close friend.”
Gabbard has also endorsed Illinois gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, Utah Senate incumbent Mike Lee, candidate for Washington’s third congressional district Joe Kent, and candidate for Michigan’s third congressional district John Gibbs (an election denialist who in the past suggested that women should not have the right to vote).
Gabbard’s shift is not surprising. Beyond appearing at CPAC this year, she has found a home in right-wing media. There, she has focused less on bringing conservatives closer to her, and more on bringing herself closer to them—criticizing the impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump as “partisan,” complaining about “open borders,” and even filling in for Tucker Carlson on his show.
If Gabbard is just preparing for 2024, she can take comfort knowing support is already bubbling. David DePape, the man who attacked Paul Pelosi last week, has endorsed Gabbard to be Trump’s running mate.
This piece has been updated.