First it was socialists and Marxists winning Democrat primaries over the summer and again this week. Now, Missouri Republican leaders are condemning an extreme candidate that came from no where to win the GOP primary for a northwest Missouri seat. Officials say they didn’t recruit or support the candidate who has said, “Hitler was right” and promoted conspiracies about Jewish “cabals”.
Steve West won Tuesday’s primary for a Clay County House seat by nearly 25 points over three other candidates. It is not the first time that fringe candidates have appeared from no where to run in primaries crowded with legitimate candidates. White supremacist David Duke ran for president both as a Democrat in 1988 and then as a Republican in 1992. While not successful any of those races, he used the moment to make himself a household name.
It is not known if West’s intentions for fame are similar to Duke’s but he does have a radio show where he espouses his theories.
“Looking back in history, unfortunately, Hitler was right about what was taking place in Germany,” West said on a show on AM radio station KCXL on Jan. 23, 2017, under the persona Jack Justice.
The Missouri Republican Party, which strongly supports Israel and efforts to battle anti-Semitism here and abroad, on Thursday issued a statement distancing itself from West.
“Steve West’s shocking and vile comments do not reflect the position of the Missouri Republican Party or indeed of any decent individual,” the statement said. “West’s abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere. We wholeheartedly condemn his comments.”
Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said she was trying to determine how West and his views “flew under the radar” before the election.
“What is a person who is elected into a position of power going to do with beliefs like this?” she said.
Asked if anyone performed background checks, the Clay County GOP said it does not vet candidates or involve itself in primary elections. That is standard practice for both Republican and Democrat organizations who typically do not involve themselves in an election until after the primary is over. The Missouri House Republican Leadership said in a statement Thursday that it was not aware of anyone asking West to run.
“To our knowledge, no member of the Missouri Republican Party, the House Republican Campaign Committee, or sitting member of the General Assembly recruited Mr. West to run for office; we find his statements to be vile, offensive, and out of line with our Party’s values,” the statement said.
West told the Kansas City Star Thursday that he wanted to talk about his platform and suggested his recorded statements may have been taken out of context. He said he believes all men are created equal, but that he finds fault with some ideologies, such as Islam and Judaism.
When asked about Jewish people in Missouri, he said, “Well, maybe they shouldn’t vote for me.”
He said he hoped voters would listen to his remarks in full and make up their own minds.
State Rep. Jon Carpenter, the Democratic incumbent for the district, said he hoped people who voted for West simply were unaware of his views. West did not make his views known in any mailers, commercials or in any meetings with potential voters.
This has been an interesting political year for both Republicans and Democrats. Avowed socialists have won democrat primaries in at least four states beating long-time incumbents. Democrat Party leaders worry that the radical views of some of their primary winners will turn away grass-roots midwestern voters.
One thing that worries Democrats most is the fact that, in the 20th Century, anti-semitism was pushed by socialist/marxist ideologies which, in order to rouse the masses, most often attacked Jewish communities. For Republicans it is similar in keeping white-supremacists out of the political process. Both Democrats and Republicans say they are working to keep the fringe out of the mainstream of party campaigns.