A white nationalist is now the front-runner in the GOP primary in Paul Ryan's district.
Long-shot candidate and self-described “pro-white” politician Paul Nehlen is now the leading Republican to take over Ryan’s Wisconsin seat now that the current Speaker of the House is not running for re-election.
Nehlen incited international outrage in February when he tweeted a photo of Prince Harry’s fiancée Meghan Markle with an image of a dark-skinned, prehistoric human known as “Cheddar Man.” (Markle’s mother is black.) Alongside the image, Nehlen tweeted, “Honey, does this tie make my face look pale?”
That racist tweet prompted Twitter to permanently ban Nehlen, though it wasn’t the first time he’d drawn criticism on the platform. In January, he posted a list of his critics and claimed most of them were Jewish. He’s also used the hashtag #ItsOkayToBeWhite, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which dubbed Nehlen an “outrage artist.”
Breitbart, which previously supported Nehlen, has since “cut all ties” with the candidate due to his “clearly anti-Semitic and white nationalist comments.”
“It’s a circus,” Mark Graul, a Wisconsin Republican strategist, told the New York Times of Ryan’s primary, days before news broke that he wasn't going to run again. “You can’t make this stuff up.”
Prior to Ryan’s resignation, few believed that Nehlen had a chance at stealing the Republican nomination for Wisconsin’s first district from the Speaker; now, the GOP establishment will almost certainly find another candidate to back. But with Ryan out, Republicans will face surprisingly stiff competition for the district: Schoolteacher Cathy Myers and ironworker Randy Bryce — better known by his Twitter handle “Iron Stache,” thanks to his lush horseshoe mustache — are now competing for the Democratic nomination.
Bryce has already started using Ryan’s retirement in his fundraising emails.
“Right now, one of the Republicans running in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District is an actual neo-Nazi,” an email sent Wednesday morning reads. “I’d like to say he’s unelectable, but look who is in the White House.”
Nick Polce is also registered to run as a Republican for Wisconsin’s 1st district, according to Federal Election Commission records, though as of December 2017 Nehlen’s fundraising efforts far outstripped Polce’s. The filing deadline for the district’s primary is June 1.
Cover image: Wisconsin's congressional district candidate Paul Nehlen speaks to reporters Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, during a press conference in downtown Janesville, Wis. (Angela Major/The Janesville Gazette via AP)