While most of the political world has zoomed in on the outcomes of high-profile primaries in Georgia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, other, lesser-known candidates who sailed to victory are flying under the radar. And some of those potential lawmakers carry some very real baggage.
From a GOP congressional hopeful’s previous declaration that those who support abortion rights are worse than Adolf Hitler to another who blames gay rights for tornadoes and autism, here’s a look a look at some of the eyebrow-raising candidates who won their primaries and have so far eluded the national spotlight.
Dennis Richardson: The Oregon trial lawyer easily won the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber in the general election in November. Richardson has made a slew of controversial statements on abortion, guns, and gay rights during his time in the Oregon House of Representatives. He once said homosexuality was just like smoking and drinking because it was “behavior-based.” After the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, Richardson said schools should train and arms teachers with guns. Richardson even insisted that if he had been an armed teacher at the elementary school “most of the murdered children would still be alive and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide.” The nonpartisan website RealClearPolitics has predicted the outcome of the gubernatorial general election race will remain “Likely Democratic.”
Jody Hice: The Georgia pastor was one of two Republicans who advanced in this week’s primary to replace ultra-conservative Rep. Paul Broun. Hice wrote a book two years ago in which he claimed the gay community in the U.S. has a secret plan to recruit and sodomize children. He’s also said those who support abortion rights are worse than Hitler, and that having gay parents is like “losing mom or dad in a car accident.” Hice had a slight edge over the other GOPer, trucking company owner Mike Collins, who advanced in the run-off election. So there’s a decent chance Hice could be elected to Congress by his majority-red district voters.
Ben Sasse: The tea party favorite easily won the Nebraska Republican Senate primary and early polling suggests Sasse is poised to win the general election and replace retiring Republican Sen. Mike Johanns in November. Sasse – backed by Sen. Ted Cruz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – has built his campaign around his opposition to Obamacare. He also appears to believe that religious freedom is above the law. According to text on his website, Sasse “believes that our right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life.” It adds: “This is not a negotiable issue. Government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances. He will fight for the right of all Americans to act in accordance with their conscience.”
Thom Tillis: The speaker of the North Carolina House won the GOP Senate primary in what is being seen as a big victory for establishment Republicans. Tillis – endorsed by Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush – will now face Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who remains one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Tillis, who has focused much of his campaign tying Hagan to President Obama’s controversial healthcare law, has taken extreme views on a number of issues, including climate change, voter ID laws, drug testing and abortion restriction. Last month he said he didn’t believe climate change was a fact, and he has helped push some of the state’s conservative abortion and voter ID laws. He’s also said North Carolina should consider drug testing recipients of welfare.
Alex Mooney: The former Maryland Republican Party Chairman won the GOP nomination in a crowded field for West Virginia’s 2nd district earlier this month, despite accusations that he was a carpetbagger after relocating from Maryland to West Virginia in 2013. The tea partier will next take on former state Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey in the Nov. 4 general election for a seat in the House of Representatives. He’s a fierce social conservative who once called on lawmakers to back legislation limiting federal courts’ ability to make rulings on religious monuments, wanted to cut abortion coverage from Maryland’s Medicaid program and warned that gay Americans were trying to get legal recognition as minorities.
Susanne Atanus: Despite Republican leaders in Illinois urging Atanus to drop out of the GOP primary for the 9th congressional district, she managed to win the nomination anyway earlier this spring. Atanus came under fierce criticism following an interview with the Daily Herald newspaper, in which she blamed natural disasters, autism and dementia on recent advances in LGBT equality and abortion access. “God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said, adding “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military, it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.” Atanus will take on Democratic incumbent Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the fall.
Monica Wehby: Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby – endorsed by the Republican establishment – won her party’s nomination despite recently-surfaced police reports in which both her ex-husband and ex-boyfriend accuse her of harassment, stalking and minor physical assaults. The pro-choice, pediatric neurosurgeon will now face first-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who some Republicans think could be vulnerable. What’s yet to be seen is how the stalking allegations, which surfaced very late in the primary, affect Wehby in the general election.