November 05, 2021
Political prognosticators feared the 2021 off-year elections could usher in a new era of extremists in elected office. And while the worst-case scenario did not materialize, the election results appear to show an electorate that is not entirely averse to candidates with extremist (and extremist-adjacent) platforms and ideologies, signaling a potentially alarming trend ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
At least eight candidates who attended the January 6 “stop the steal” rally in Washington D.C. won their bids for office. Some of these individuals are troubling in other ways, using inflammatory rhetoric to claim that antifa was responsible for the violence at the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and warning of a “coming Civil War.”
One candidate with explicit connections to an extremist group won his race: Dave LaRock, who was reelected to the Virginia House of Delegates, attended two “Stop the Steal” rallies, speaking during at least one of them alongside Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes. LaRock baselessly tried to have Virginia’s electoral votes set aside, blamed the January 6 violence on “paid provocateurs” and has spread misinformation about the 2020 presidential election and medical science regarding the COVID-19 virus and vaccines, telling a crowd in November 2020, “I can‘t think of a worse violation, short of being raped or killed, than to have somebody stick a needle in my body and inject chemicals.”
Defeated candidates who are members of extremist groups and/or promoted QAnon:
- Edward Durfee, an outspoken regional leader of the Oath Keepers, lost his bid for a seat in New Jersey’s State Assembly in the 37th district. Durfee allegedly worked as an Oath Keeper security detail outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He denies entering the building and has not been charged criminal for his participation that day.
- Gene Ho lost his bid for mayor of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was Donald Trump's photographer and authored TRUMPography: How Biblical Principles Paved the Way to the American Presidency. Ho attended the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally and has spread QAnon conspiracy theories as a speaker at multiple QAnon events. Most recently, he was a featured speaker at the April 2021 Health and Freedom Conference in Tulsa.
- QAnon supporter Mark Szuszkiewicz barely lost his run for New York City Council for the 47th district. Szuszkiewicz, who spoke at a June 2021 protest in Manhattan in support of January 6 insurrectionists, promoted the event on Instagram posting, “we fight for those wrongfully imprisoned for #political reasons.” Szuszkiewicz has also shared QAnon conspiracy theories and hashtags on multiple social media platforms.
- Militia leader Matt Wakulik, a write-in candidate, lost his bid for sheriff of Allegheny County Pennsylvania. Wakulik leads the Pittsburgh-based militia, Iron City Citizens Response Unit.
- Oath Keeper Brett Wynkoop lost his bid for NYC Council 39th District. In October 2021, Buzzfeed reported that Wynkoop managed the domain for Oath Keepers NYC website and in was involved in migrating the Oath Keepers’ website to new servers, rebooting its internal chat functionalities, and sharing messages from Stewart Rhodes following the Insurrection.
Defeated candidates who previously associated with extremists:
- Proud Boys associate Steven Bahoura failed to win a seat on the city council of Sterling Heights, Michigan, City. Bahoura, who was pictured with Proud Boys at a 2019 event outside of the Farmington Holocaust Memorial Center, has posted virulently xenophobic and anti-immigrant comments on social media.
- Judge Paula Patrick lost her bid for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the May 2021 primary. The Judge was interviewed on a podcast with QAnon influencers Allen and Francine Fosdick but later claimed no knowledge of the conspiracy. Patrick remains a sitting judge in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
Unsuccessful candidates with a history of antisemitism:
- Audrey F Young-Muhammad, a Nation of Islam (NOI) member with a history of deeply antisemitic social media content, narrowly lost her bid for Flint, MI, City Council, representing the 2nd Ward.
- Kenneth Muhammad, a NOI leader with a history of making antisemitic comments, lost his primary bid for a seat on the Monroe County (NY) legislature.
Based on our ongoing research, we are extremely concerned about the potential impact of extremism on the 2022 elections. ADL's Center on Extremism is currently tracking dozens of candidates with extremist views, including a number with explicit connections to extremist groups or movements.
Disclaimer: As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, ADL takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.