Extremism and intolerance are on the ballot in 2018
Right-wing extremists and outspoken bigots are making their presence felt in mainstream American politics, and a record number of them are running for office this year.
Around the country, in blue and red states alike, members of the extremist right – including several with ties to white supremacists– are enjoying more exposure today than at any time in recent history. Less extreme but no less troubling are the number of candidates who have expressed antisemitic, racist and/or Islamophobic views.
While extremists’ involvement in politics is not new, the country’s major political parties have historically kept fringe candidates and their ideologies at arm’s length.
Today, while the GOP has publicly denounced almost all of its extremist candidates, a significant number continue to campaign as “Republicans.”
Not every candidate included here is an extremist, but they all espouse problematic views. We believe voters deserve to know as much as possible about their candidates.
The following list includes candidates that have exhibited behaviors and belief systems that are normally of serious concern to ADL. As a 501c-3 organization, by law, ADL never takes sides in any election. With that in mind, this should not be viewed as a “blacklist” of problematic candidates; it is simply a guide designed to help voters ask candidates relevant questions about their stances on issues we consider to be relevant and pressing.
Arthur “Art” Jones, Republican (U.S. Representative, Illinois-3): Former American Nazi Party head Arthur Jones is the Republican nominee for US Representative for the state’s 3rd Congressional District after running unopposed in the primary. The vocal white supremacist and Holocaust denier will face incumbent Representative Dan Lipinski in the general election.
Jones and his wife are founding (and possibly sole) members of the neo-Nazi America First Committee, which operates under the Nationalist Front umbrella. He often attends events organized by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM), including the April 2017 rally in Pikeville, Kentucky.
Jones has run for office, always unsuccessfully, since the 1970s.
While few believe Jones has any chance of winning the 3rd, where voters have elected a Democrat in 24 of the last 25 Congressional races, as a major-party candidate for a statewide seat, Jones will have a significant platform for his hateful views. The candidate’s website pairs “America First” language with outright Holocaust denial, including a “Holocaust Racket” diatribe that blames “Organized World Jewry” for perpetrating “the biggest, blackest lie in history.”
Responding to Jones’s candidacy, Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, issued the following statement: “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.” State party officials are attempting to identify an alternative write-in candidate.
John Fitzgerald, Republican (U.S. House of Representatives, California-11): Antisemitic conspiracy theorist John Fitzgerald won enough votes in the state’s June primary to advance to the general election. CA-11, which encompasses a swath of the East Bay, has elected a Democrat to its House seat in the last three elections. Fitzgerald, a small business owner and perennial (unsuccessful) candidate for this seat, is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who often “questions” facts about the Holocaust and defends Holocaust deniers.
Staunchly anti-Israel, Fitzgerald also makes frequent (false) references to Jewish Americans having “dual citizenship” with Israel, which is a common antisemitic trope. He promulgates some of the most common right-wing conspiracy theories about chem trails, the Federal Reserve, FEMA internment camps for U.S. citizens, vaccines and GMOs, and believes that Planned Parenthood is working in concert with the United Nations to “sexualize” the nation’s public school children.
In July, a robocall targeting East Bay voters urged them to, “End the Jewish takeover of America and restore our democracy by voting John Fitzgerald for U.S. Congress,” adding, “….Your vote for John Fitzgerald means no more U.S. wars for Israel based on their lies, like the Jewish conducted attack on 9/11. Your vote for John Fitzgerald means no more sacrificing the lives and limbs of our children for Israel. Your vote for John Fitzgerald means no more killing for Israel…”
The robocall, sponsored by right wing extremist website Road to Power, prompted a quick response from Fitzgerald, who issued a statement denouncing the message, and emphatically stating that he did not authorize or approve the call. Road to Power issued a similar call earlier this year in support of antisemite Patrick Little’s failed candidacy for Dianne Feinstein’s U.S. Senate seat.
Everett Corley, Republican (Kentucky State House, District 43): During a 2014 appearance on “The Ethno State,” a white supremacist YouTube show, Corley decried interracial marriage. Later in the program, which was hosted by American Freedom Party’s William Johnson, Corley personally attacked U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is married to Elaine Chao, saying that white people like McConnell have a responsibility to “maintain our people and our culture as much as anyone else.” During the same interview, Corley also complained about school violence against white students and the lack of “champions” for “European or Caucasian Americans.” In September 2018, Corley defended his comments to the Louisville Courier Journal, citing “social science.” Kentucky’s Republican Party dismissed Corley’s candidacy in a statement, saying, “His views do not reflect those of the Republican Party of Kentucky.”
Corey Stewart, Republican (U.S. Senate, Virginia): The GOP candidate for U.S. Senate referred to Paul Nehlen as one of his “personal heroes” at a political event in February 2017. In a video obtained by CNN, Stewart praised Nehlen again in November 2017, after Nehlen had made his antisemitic, white supremacist positions public. In the exchange, Stewart expresses support for Nehlen’s candidacy and refers to him as a “real conservative.”
Stewart, who is running for Democrat Tim Kaine’s seat after an unsuccessful 2017 bid for governor, was an outspoken supporter of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and has appeared publicly several times with its local organizer, Jason Kessler. A recent Stewart campaign email praised “volunteer of the week” Ian MacDonald, whose Facebook page includes memes of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell.
Harry V. Bertram, American Freedom Union Party (West Virginia State House of Representatives, District 51): Bertram, a white supremacist, is a perennial candidate in West Virginia; he ran unsuccessfully in 2011, 2012 and 2014 for various state positions.
Rick Tyler, Independent (Governor of Tennessee and U.S. House of Representatives, Tennessee-3): White supremacist Rick Tyler is running simultaneously for Congress and to be the next Governor of Tennessee. Tyler, who lives in Polk County, helped plan the June 2018 Nationalist Solutions conference, which attracted high profile white supremacists including David Duke, Kevin MacDonald and many others.
Seth Grossman, Republican (U.S. House of Representatives, New Jersey-2): Grossman has praised racist opinion pieces that appeared on white supremacist websites, including American Renaissance and VDare. According to CNN, Grossman has said “diversity leads to Muslims killing Christians,” and “Kwanzaa is a fake holiday made by black racists to divide America.” He has also written (on Facebook) that faithful Muslims cannot be good Americans; Islam is a cancer; and gay men with HIV should have been quarantined in the 1980s. While the National Republican Congressional Committee has condemned Grossman and asked him to abandon his candidacy, a local GOP Chairman refuses to do the same. “You can say many things about Seth Grossman, but the man doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis said in a statement.
Russell Walker, Republican (North Carolina State House of Representatives, District 48): On Walker’s campaign website, the white supremacist candidate opines on the “superiority” of white people and declares there is “no such thing as equality.” Walker has used a racial slur in reference to Martin Luther King, Jr., and stated that Jews are descendants of Satan. State and local GOP officials have repeatedly denounced Walker’s candidacy.
Bill Fawell, Republican (U.S. House of Representatives, Illinois-17): Conspiracy theorist and antisemite Fawell claims the 9/11 attacks were an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government,” according to reporting by CNN and Media Matters. He has also promoted a range of conspiracy theories about “Pizzagate” and around the mass shootings in Newtown, CT, San Bernardino, CA, Orlando, FL and Aurora, CO. Fawell ran unopposed in the GOP primary and will face incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat.
Michael Santomauro (Mayor, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina): Santomauro, a well-known Holocaust denier, has worked as the editorial director of Theses and Dissertations Press, which publishes Holocaust denial “literature,” and runs the website RePortersNoteBook.com, where visitors can find links to Holocaust denial publications and individuals. In 2011, Santomauro angered fellow parents at his child’s New York City school by recommending the Holocaust denial book “Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides.”
Steve West, Republican (Missouri State House of Representatives, District 15): West, who is running a homophobic, Islamophobic campaign under the slogan “Restore Old American Values,” won the August 7 GOP primary with more than 49 percent of the vote. West’s extremist radio show, hosted by his alter ego, “Jack Justice,” is routinely antisemitic and Islamophobic. He has said that “Hitler was right,” and told his radio listeners American Jews “have dual citizenship by virtue of being a Jew,” and shouldn’t be allowed to hold public office, work in the media or the judiciary. West’s campaign website highlights his anti-LGBTQ positions and his profoundly Islamophobic views: “…this ideology is foul and needs to be identified for what it is….It is a scourge on America…”
Earlier in 2018:
On September 6, Republican David Reid Ross dropped out of the race for Colorado House (District 12) after his extremist views came to light. Ross’s personal blog, The House of David, included the candidate’s musings on subjects ranging from Islam, which he called “evil,” black people, whom he deemed “unready for universal franchise,” and homosexuality, which he refers to as “a disease.” Earlier this year, he wrote that he wouldn’t allow “Martin Luther King’s hate speech against my race to be forgotten,” according to The Denver Post. State GOP officials immediately distanced themselves from Ross, telling reporters, “You could say that we never supported his candidacy.”
Arpaio has given five interviews since 2014 to the American Free Press, a longstanding white supremacist, antisemitic “news” website founded by Holocaust denier Willis Carto. When a reporter from the Arizona Republic asked about the interviews, Arpaio, asked, “What am I supposed to do? Investigate every media outlet to see what stories they write?” Later, he released the following statement: “It was brought to my attention I gave interview to publication that supports antisemitism; I was unaware and don’t support that view point” (sic).
Paul Nehlen, who hoped to replace outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, was defeated in Wisconsin’s August primary. Nehlen spent much of the past year broadcasting antisemitic conspiracy theories and unapologetically racist views from his official Twitter account and on white supremacist podcasts. His Twitter account has been suspended and re-upped several times.
A businessman with no political experience, Nehlen continues to post overtly antisemitic, racist and anti-immigrant messages, many of which have been promoted widely by accounts linked to alt righters and other white supremacists, including Richard Spencer and David Duke.
Bryan Feste, who told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that he wants an “all-white nation” and has referred to Jews and other minorities using derogatory and racist language, lost his state’s August 11 primary race for State House of Representatives after Hawaii’s GOP expelled Feste after learning about his racist statements. Since his expulsion, Feste has posted antisemitic comments on Gab, a social media platform favored by white supremacists. Feste’s Gab bio reads in part: “Pro-White, jew naming, n—– spitting, all White nation wanting ex-candidate.” Feste is planning a campus tour to discuss “open discrimination laws of White minorities in Hawaii, [and] how I successfully navigated workers comp for a back injury and filing [a sex discrimination claim] with the civil rights commission.”
In California, outspoken antisemite and Republican Patrick Little hoped to challenge Democrat Dianne Feinstein for her U.S. Senate seat, but won just 1.4 percent of the vote (or about 61,000 votes) in the state’s June 5 party-blind primary. The day after the primary, Little took to social media to demand a recount, claiming that he’d come in first or second, but that votes were being suppressed by “Jewish supremacists and Zionists.”
Little, who attended the 2017 Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and told Newsweek he “admires” Adolf Hitler, has been publicly denounced by the California Republican Party.
Little’s Gab (social media) account is littered with antisemitic comments, including his oft-repeated pledge to help create a government “free from Jews.” In August, he embarked on his “Name the Jew” tour, taking his antisemitic rhetoric to cities nationwide.
Outspoken white nationalist Sean Donahue was hoping to replace U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, but he doesn’t appear to have gotten enough signatures to make it onto the ballot, and isn’t currently listed as a candidate for the recently-redrawn Pennsylvania’s recently redrawn 11th congressional district. Donahue, who was running as a Republican, told a reporter from The Nation, “The United States was intended to be white…. I don’t see why we had to have the Fair Housing Act.” He previously ran for office as a member of the white supremacist American Freedom Party.
In a local Tennessee race, Keith Alexander, who served on the board of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) and has co-hosted the right-wing extremist radio show “The Political Cesspool,” was on the ballot May 1 as the Republican candidate for Shelby County Assessor. (Alexander lost the primary, earning 38 percent of the vote). A member of the local GOP denounced Alexander, who told the Commercial Appeal newspaper, “I don’t believe in racism or white nationalism or any of those things. OK? …The idea of having any racially homogeneous nation, that ship has sailed.”
Alexander claims he’s no longer associated with the CCC, which he characterized as “probably too extreme,” or with his former “Cesspool” co-host, the well-known white supremacist and antisemite James Edwards. Alexander last co-hosted the show on December 30, 2017, according to the Commercial Appeal.
In June, white supremacist activist and Identity Evropa member James Orien Allsup went unchallenged in his campaign to become a Whitman County (Washington) Republican Precinct Committee Officer. The local GOP immediately denounced Allsup and members are reportedly examining their bylaws for a way to remove him from the position.
Allsup is best known for his far-right podcasts and as the former president of the College Republican chapter at Washington State University. In March 2018, Allsup spoke at Identity Evropa’s national conference in Tennessee. In 2017, he participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.