Missouri Republican leaders are condemning the winner of a GOP primary for a northwest Missouri seat, saying they didn’t recruit or support the candidate who has said “Hitler was right” and promoted conspiracies about Jewish “cabals” that torture children.
Steve West, who also has a YouTube channel and a website where he has expressed homophobia, Islamophobia and racism, won Tuesday’s primary for a Clay County House seat by nearly 25 points over three other candidates, The Kansas City Star reported .
West hosts a Monday morning radio show and YouTube channel under the pseudonym Jack Justice. On his website’s homepage, he likens Muslims in America to the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. “Today in this country there are multiple mosques in every city. They are the equivalent of KKK temples or Nazi party headquarters.” He has also called for Jewish synagogues to be investigated by a “demographic unit.”
The Missouri Republican Party 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. 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 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.
“I just want everyone who lives in this community to know that they’re welcome here,” he wrote in an email. “Muslims, Jews, Catholics, the LGBTQ community, people of all races and national origins, and everyone else Steve West has targeted with hate. His views do not reflect our values. We’ll stand together and love will conquer hate, as it always does.”