Dungeons & Dragons Online

Players are planning something outlandish, need help to see if I’m being too harsh in reaction

A few of my players began scheming after our last session. One of them had taken to telling me I needed to be "Mentally prepared" for any sessions after and that "from now on the sessions would be hell for me.".

Truthfully? I freaked out. I was terrified they were going to somehow destroy this campaign I've put 80+ hours into to build for them. I reached out to one of the players I'm closer to and asked if he could give me some kind of hint as to what's happening because I was honestly miserable with the threats my story was receiving. It sounded so devious.

As it turns out, they were planning on running for Mayor in the town they have been in for a session or two. For context, this is the only city in the kingdom that has a Mayor/democracy set up. He was installed because the people there were becoming restless and opposing the crown. But his presence there has only upset the people more because it's obvious he's a pawn. (I'm trying to set up an environment that shows how unhappy the people are with the royalty) When they arrived in the town, it appeared that the Mayor was running for re-election, although there was no opposition. But, by the end of their stay there (which was two sessions and two in game days), a Baron arrived. They pick pocketed him and found a royal decree stating that the Mayor was being removed after doing a terrible job and a Viscount was replacing him as the rulers needed to reinstate power.

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I honestly, don't think they remember the note they found, or even why the Baron is there. So with this knowledge in mind, I:
1. Calmed down and was relieved they weren't going to try something game breaking
2. Prepared for them trying to run for "office".

The catch here is, my plan was that if they spoke to the baron about this and rolled some high charisma and deception checks he would agree to letting one of them be a steward for a couple of days while he went to fetch the new Viscount. Upon becoming a Steward they would find that the Mayor plunged the city into massive debt and that he collects wildly high taxes because otherwise his frivolous spending would be found out. They already knew the tax rate was high, but now they would find out why. And I would task them with needed to collect taxes prior to the Baron's return which would possibly make the NPCs that they know kind of hostile towards them.

I'm asking if this seems too harsh, and if so, what would you suggest as an alternative. I've already set the stage for the Mayor's removal and I don't want to just have the Baron laugh in their faces because I feel like they would say I'm "Railroading" them. But honestly, they're assuming they're going to just walk into town, run for Mayor and then have unlimited money and resources while still wandering around the world I've built.
Maybe the Warlock would run the spell that allows him to create a duplicate of himself and leave him there, but I've already established that this town is in not so great shape. It wouldn't be cannon if I allowed them to just tap into a royal reserve for the rest of the game.

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A friend of mine told me I'm going to make them drop out of the game if I follow this path, but honestly and realistically, I don't see any other way it would work with the context of the town I've already created.

Any feedback would help. Thank you!

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