Republicans to field more than 100 far-right candidates this year – The Guardian

Posted By on February 3, 2022

More than 100 far-right candidates are running for political office across the country as Republicans this year according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-profit that monitors hate groups.

Aside from those expressing extremist rhetoric and far-right views, the ADL has found at least a dozen of the candidates had explicit connections to white supremacists, anti-government extremists and members of the far-right Proud Boys. It includes primary challengers running to the right of some sitting Republicans.

In Arkansass third district Neil Kumar, who the ADL found has written for white supremacist publications, is challenging the incumbent congressman, Steve Womack, who broke with Republicans in voting in favor of creating the January 6 commission to investigate the Capitol attack. The openly racist views of Kumar prompted the Arkansas state Republican party to take the unusual step of declaring him a non-recommended candidate in the upcoming primary.

The wave of far-right candidates includes sitting legislators like the Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers, who has admitted to being a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia with 11 members currently under federal indictment for seditious conspiracy.

Other militia groups have candidates running or already in local office. The Washington Three Percent militia claims members in dozens of elected offices throughout the Pacific north-west, the Washington Post found, including a mayor, a county commissioner and at least five school board seats.

In Idaho the far-right anti-government activist Ammon Bundy who led an armed standoff against federal agents at Malheur wildlife refuge in 2014 is running for the governors office. Bundys group, the Peoples Rights network, has now increased its national membership to 33,000 members and has at least 398 activists in 39 states, according to a report by Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.

Many far-right candidates have no direct links to violent extremist groups, but do support a range of far-right views. The ADL tracked at least 45 candidates running for office this year that have lent credence in some way to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement. Many more hold on to Donald Trumps big lie the false belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

Nationwide there are 207 current elected officials who aided former president Trump in efforts to overturn the 2020, according to data compiled by the Insurrection Index, a project of the voting rights group Public Wise. The index includes senators like Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, who voted against certifying the 2020 election and spread misinformation including suggesting that the January 6 attack was carried out by fake Trump voters.

While many candidates are seeking local or national legislative seats, some are purposely running for bureaucratic offices whose chief responsibility is to certify elections. At least 11 election denying candidates are running for attorney general in 10 states,, according to tracking by the States United Democracy Center, a non-partisan group that monitors election races nationwide.

Fringe political candidates are a part of every US election cycle, but while these 2022 candidates hold far-right views they are also part of a wave within the Republican party that is no longer fringe but increasingly represents a powerful even dominant wing in the party.

The real danger is not just the wave of extreme candidates, its their embrace, their mainstreaming by the Republican party, said Steven Levitsky, a professor of government at Harvard University and the co-author of How Democracies Die. The United States has always had nutty, extremist, authoritarian politicians around the fringe. What is new and really dangerous for democracy is that theyre increasingly running as Republican candidates.

Levitsky added: At first you had a flirtation and tolerance with a handful of extremists at the fringes. Were now seeing an army of extremists embraced by the former president. Theyre marching in and taking over the Republican party at the state and local level.

In Oregon, Daniel Tooze, a prominent associate of the Proud Boys who has participated in street brawls with anti-fascists in Portland, is running for Oregons state legislature in the 40th district. Tooze ran for the same seat in 2020, failing to secure the Republican nomination in the primary, but he received 40% of the Republican vote in the primary. This year Tooze is the only Republican who has filed to run again.

When mainstream parties take onboard figures who deny the legitimacy of elections, refuse to accept electoral defeat, condone or even engage in political violence, you are putting democracy at risk, said Levitsky.

Tooze declined to be interviewed for this article but stated in correspondence: Im just a regular guy.

A review of Toozes campaign website and filing statement show no mention of affiliation with the Proud Boys. Tooze campaign messaging uses the language of mainstream Republican talking points.

The Guardian has previously reported on far-right groups shifting their focus to local communities. Since the Capitol attack members of groups such as the Proud Boys have shown up to local venues including school board meetings to stand alongside mainstream conservatives, especially around issues such as Covid-19 restrictions.

This month Tooze tweeted a video of Thomas Renz, a far-right anti-vaccine influencer, speaking at a panel convened by Senator Johnson that promoted misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccines. The video of Renz went viral in alt-tech platforms but also within mainstream social media. Tooze wrote of the video: Its time to hold the government accountable for what theyve done to the people.

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Republicans to field more than 100 far-right candidates this year - The Guardian

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