28 Republican candidates who have connections to bigoted media

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Numerous Republican candidates who are running for office in 2018 have connections to bigoted media.

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s election as president has given inspiration and cover to GOP candidates to espouse even more overt extremism. Trump ran a campaign with heavy ties to the white nationalist movement, and his administration has been stocked full of appointees with bigoted histories.

In 2018, numerous Republican candidates have promoted media that have trafficked in bigotry. In other instances, the candidates themselves pushed bigoted views during their previous work in right-wing media.

The following list includes over two dozen active GOP candidates who have connections to bigoted media. This list does not include the many Republican candidates this cycle who have promoted other extremist media but are no longer actively seeking office.

Rep. Lou Barletta (Senate candidate in Pennsylvania)

As CNN’s KFile team reported: When he was the mayor of Hazleton, PA, Barletta “did an interview with a fringe publication that promotes Holocaust denial and headlined a rally where a political activist and musician who has questioned the Holocaust and promoted conspiracies about the September 11, 2001 attacks also spoke and performed. As a congressman, Barletta appeared on a panel put on by the controversial Youth for Western Civilization and spoke at an event hosted by a journal that pushes extreme anti-immigrant views.”

Rep. Dave Brat (congressional candidate in Virginia)

 In 2015, Brat touted the white nationalist website VDare’s praise of the anti-immigrant amendment he had proposed that year. Brat’s campaign has received a donation from Ian Smith, a writer who resigned from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over his ties to white nationalists.

Rep. Barbara Comstock (congressional candidate in Virginia) 

Comstock has promoted the endorsement of Fox News commentator and friend David Bossie, who was suspended for two weeks from the network for making a racist remark. In a June appearance, Bossie told a Black guest, Democratic strategist Joel Payne, “You’re out of your cotton-picking mind.”

Everett Corley (candidate for Kentucky state House)

In 2014, Corley appeared on the white nationalist program The Ethno State. During that show, he pushed racist talking points and discussed Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) interracial marriage, stating that he believes “we should maintain our people” but also suggesting that McConnell’s “marriage is not my problem” because it hasn’t produced any children. The Republican Party of Kentucky denounced Corley following Media Matters’ reporting.

Ron DeSantis (candidate for Florida governor)

DeSantis, whose campaign has had numerous problems with racism, said on Fox News while discussing the prospect of Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum winning the election: “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” DeSantis spoke at a conference in 2017 for the virulently anti-Muslim ACT for America and has also spoken “four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.”

John Fitzgerald (congressional candidate in California)

Fitzgerald is an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who has appeared on neo-Nazi podcasts. The California Republican Party briefly endorsed his campaign after he won the Republican nomination but rescinded it.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (congressional candidate in Florida)

Gaetz has defended and repeatedly associated with right-wing writer and Holocaust denier Charles C. Johnson.

Seth Grossman (congressional candidate in New Jersey)

Grossman frequently pushed bigotry while working as a right-wing commentator. Notably, in 2014, he promoted an opinion piece on a white nationalist website that claimed that Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths.” The National Republican Congressional Committee dropped Grossman following Media Matters’ reporting.

Tommy Gregory (candidate for Florida state House)

Gregory attended an event that Peter Gemma, a white nationalist writer involved in the Holocaust denial movement, hosted for him. Gemma was also an official with the Sarasota County Republican Party’s executive committee but resigned following controversy.

Diane Harkey (congressional candidate in California)

Harkey has touted endorsements on her website from two groups that traffic in bigotry against Latinos and Muslims: San Diegans for Secure Borders and San Diego Patriots. Harkey took down the endorsement from San Diegans for Secure Borders, which also frequently promotes propaganda from the white nationalist website VDare; the San Diego Patriots endorsement currently remains on her website.

Mark Harris (congressional candidate in North Carolina)

Harris has been a right-wing pastor who has frequently appeared in conservative media to attack LGBTQ people. In 2016, Harris signed a false and bigoted statement claiming that “all terror groups … have 100% Muslim membership” and “terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.”

Arthur Jones (congressional candidate in Illinois)

Jones is a neo-Nazi who has appeared in white nationalist media. Politico reported in June that “Illinois Republicans botched four opportunities to stop” Jones, “an avowed Nazi,” from becoming the party’s congressional nominee.

Rep. Steve King (congressional candidate in Iowa)

King has frequently cited and promoted racist and anti-Semitic media, including white nationalist host Lana Lokteff, neo-Nazi writer Mark Collett, and white nationalist website VDare. As HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias noted, “The Republican Party has let King’s bigotry go unpunished.”

Kris Kobach (candidate for Kansas governor)

In a 2017 Breitbart column that was also posted on his campaign website, Kobach cited a made-up anti-immigrant statistic from white nationalist writer Peter Gemma, who is also associated with Florida GOP candidate Tommy Gregory. The Kansas Republican also received a campaign donation from writer Ian Smith, who resigned from DHS over his ties to white nationalists. Kobach has a history of associations with white nationalists.

Rep. Jason Lewis (congressional candidate in Minnesota)

Lewis is a former right-wing radio host who used his media platform to make toxic remarks about women and LGBTQ people. CNN’s KFile team reported in July that Lewis “has a long history of racist rhetoric about African-Americans, pushing claims of a ‘racial war’ by blacks on whites and arguing that violence regularly occurs at black gatherings. He also frequently claimed that black people have an ‘entitlement mentality’ and viewed themselves as victims.” The CNN unit further reported that Lewis said Black people have “substituted one plantation for another” because of the “modern welfare state.”

Chris McDaniel (Senate candidate in Mississippi)

McDaniel is a former conservative radio host. As CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported, “McDaniel listed a group that advocates for southern secession among a list of 'favorite websites' featured on the show's website.” The Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick and Adam Rawnsley also reported that McDaniel’s radio show website “mocked women and minorities.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (congressional candidate in California)

Rohrabacher, like Gaetz, has repeatedly associated with right-wing writer and Holocaust denier Charles C. Johnson. The congressman has also accepted the maximum legal campaign donation from him for his primary and general election campaign accounts.

Guy Reschenthaler (congressional candidate in Pennsylvania)

Reschenthaler wrote an enthusiastic foreword to a bigotry-filled 2012 book by Carl Higbie, who resigned earlier this year from a government position because of toxic comments he made as a pundit. Reschenthaler later disavowed the foreword and claimed that he hadn’t actually read the book -- despite stating in the foreword that he wrote it after “reading his work.”

Walker Stapleton (candidate for Colorado governor)

Stapleton appeared at an event with supporter and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who sat on the board of the white nationalist group VDare. Stapleton also said he would “love to utilize” Tancredo if he becomes governor. Tancredo was scheduled to speak at VDare events before the venues cancelled them because of the group’s history. Tancredo, who has also been a Breitbart columnist and briefly ran for Colorado governor this cycle, has a long history of pushing bigotry.

Corey Stewart (Senate candidate in Virginia)

Stewart is a neo-Confederate who has numerous connections to bigoted political and media figures. Staffers for Stewart’s campaign have also had a racism problem, especially on social media.

Rep. Scott Taylor (congressional candidate in Virginia)

Taylor’s 2015 book included an endorsement from Robert Spencer, a writer who has built a career on anti-Muslim bigotry and was even banned from the United Kingdom for his toxic rhetoric.

Russell Walker (candidate for North Carolina state House)

Walker is a racist and anti-Semite who, as The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC, reported, authored essays claiming, among other things, that “God is a racist white supremacist and that Jews are descended from Satan.” Walker has also appeared on the white nationalist podcast Stormfront Action.

Steve West (candidate for Missouri state House)

As The Kansas City Star reported in August, West is a far-right radio host who has said “Hitler was right,” “promote[d] fanatical conspiracies about ‘Jewish cabals’ that are ‘harvesting baby parts’ through Planned Parenthood,” and “unleashed an array of bigotry including homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and outright racism.”

Daniel Crenshaw (congressional candidate in Texas), Ron DeSantis (candidate for Florida governor), Patrick Morrisey (Senate candidate in West Virginia), Rep. Jim Renacci (Senate candidate in Ohio), Matt Rosendale (Senate candidate in Montana), Corey Stewart (Senate candidate in Virginia), and Danny Tarkanian (congressional candidate in Nevada)

As Media Matters has documented, those Republicans were listed as administrators and moderators for a racist Facebook group. They are no longer part of the group.