Press Release

ADL: Nearly 25 Percent of Right-Wing Extremist Candidates Identified by Center on Extremism Have Won Their Primaries in 2022

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ADL also examined candidates from the far-left, many of whom have promoted radical anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric.


New York, NY, August 4, 2022 … According to a new analysis from ADL (Anti-Defamation League) Center on Extremism, nearly 25 percent of right-wing extremist candidates running in primaries across the country in 2022 have been victorious so far. In a companion study, ADL found there were also a significant number of candidates espousing anti-Israel and anti-Zionist views, but they fared less well at the ballot box.

In January 2022, the ADL Center on Extremism identified more than 100 right-wing extremists running for elected office nationwide, warning that these candidates had the potential to shift the Overton Window --  what is considered “normal” or “acceptable” in political and social discourse. While some of these right-wing extremist candidates have lost their races, the results from the primaries held over the last few weeks demonstrate that ties to extremist ideologies and groups have ceased to be a political poison pill.

Of the 114 primaries involving right-wing extremist candidates that have taken place, 28 won and have advanced to the general election. Ten of the 28 won by a margin of 10 percent or greater. 

Right-wing extremist candidates who won their 2022 primaries subscribe to or espouse a range of extremist and fringe ideologies, including support for QAnon; ties to anti-government extremists like the militia movement and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association; white supremacy; and antisemitism. Other candidates have sought to undermine the United States electoral system by propagating election conspiracies and participating in the January 6 Capitol attack.

"It is profoundly troubling on a number of levels that at least two dozen candidates, many holding right-wing extremist views, long considered on the fringes of normal political discourse, have won their respective primaries,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Given these candidates’ proclivity for engaging in conspiracies that undermine democracy and their indulgence in ideologies that scapegoat and target perceived enemies, this is a dangerous development that risks further normalizing extremist activity and imperiling our political system.”

It should be noted that this is just a sampling of the right-wing extremist candidates that have won their primaries, and there are at least 70 candidates vying to win their primaries over the next few weeks.

ADL Center on Extremism also examined candidates from the far-left, many of which have promoted radical anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric. ADL found that many radical anti-Israel candidates who have engaged in language that plays into antisemitic tropes only received a small percentage of the vote, and lost their respective races. Others who have only occasionally veered into inflammatory rhetoric, some of whom have expressed remorse, fared better.

Perhaps as troubling, during the primaries a notable segment of radical anti-Zionist activists engaged in rhetoric related to pro-Israel organizations and “Zionists” that has employed common antisemitic themes related to Jewish control and Jewish money.

In at least one more extreme case, a local Democratic party called for the exclusion of all Zionists from American office. They released an apology on the platform. Another subgenre of this theme was the allegation that the Russian government’s overt active measures to destabilize the United States was somehow comparable to pro-Israel groups exercising their legally protected right to raise money through a PAC and endorse candidates aligned with their political stances. 

“While the threat posed by right-wing extremism poses a unique and violent danger to the preservation of our democratic norms and to marginalized communities, it is deeply concerning to see a number of candidates on the far-left promote intolerant and radical views on Israel and Zionism, further sowing division in our ever-polarized environment,” said Greenblatt. “This sort of rhetoric, baselessly accusing of Israel of apartheid or practicing ethnic cleansing, demonizes and ostracizes many members of the Jewish community and cannot be tolerated.”

Disclaimer: As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, ADL takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office. 

ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.