A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.
Photo by David Goldman/AP

In 2018, many voters are confronting overt racists on the ballot


The Hawaii Republican Party formally expelled one of its state House candidates this week after learning about his background as a white supremacist. As the Associated Press reported, the GOP candidate says he wants an “all-white nation,” and describes himself in campaign materials as “pro-white.”

The move from the state Republican Party was largely symbolic – as a matter of state law, officials don’t have the authority to remove the guy’s name from the primary ballot – but GOP officials wanted to make it clear that they don’t support racists or racism.

The trouble is, this has been happening quite a bit lately. The developments in Hawaii follow a story out of New Jersey, where Republican congressional hopeful Seth Grossman was also denounced by his party for having used racist rhetoric. Though he hasn’t yet been rejected by his party, Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) is facing related accusations in his own re-election bid.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank recently put together a round-up, further documenting the problem.

Many such characters have crawled out from under rocks and onto Republican ballots in 2018: A candidate with ties to white nationalists is the GOP Senate nominee in Virginia (and has President Trump’s endorsement); an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier is the Republican candidate in a California House race; a prominent neo-Nazi won the GOP nomination in an Illinois House race; and overt racists are in Republican primaries across the country.

That’s really just a sampling. Milbank went on to note a Republican white supremacist who won his party’s nomination for a North Carolina state House seat, a Republican congressional candidate in Wisconsin who calls himself “pro-white” and was booted from Twitter for racism, and a GOP state Senate candidate in California who, after losing in a primary, attributed his defeat to fraud by “Jewish supremacists.”

The good news is, Republican officials generally want nothing to do with any of these candidates, and in several instances, overt racists have been formally denounced by the party. Just as importantly, some of these candidates are still running in GOP primaries, where they’re likely to lose.

The question for the political world to consider, however, is why so many of these candidates decided to run as Republicans in 2018.

Postscript: The Senate also rejected one of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees last week after some members learned of racist writings in his background.