Michigan Republican who called Jews the ‘real virus’ loses election

Robert ‘RJ’ Regan, who filled social media with antisemitic quips and joked about rape, fails to secure special election win in state House district controlled by GOP for decade

Robert Regan was the Republican nominee for the state House seat in Michigan's 74th district in 2022. (Screenshot from YouTube via JTA)
Robert Regan was the Republican nominee for the state House seat in Michigan's 74th district in 2022. (Screenshot from YouTube via JTA)

(JTA) – During his campaign for a state House seat, Michigan Republican nominee Robert “RJ” Regan had told local outlets that, “My words aren’t as smooth and polished as the politicians are because I’m not a politician.” And there were many ways that Regan was not like other politicians.

For one, most politicians’ public Facebook pages are not filled with antisemitic memes blaming Jews for the September 11 attacks, calling Jews the “real virus” instead of COVID-19, or calling feminism “a Jewish program to degrade white men.” Most politicians also do not have recorded video of themselves making jokes about their own daughters being raped. Regan had all of the above.

Most politicians also run with the full backing of their parties, but the Michigan GOP — which just recently voted to replace state election officials who had certified President Joe Biden’s win in 2020 — refused to aid Regan in his Grand Rapids-area special election, after he won the primary in March. Although the state party had initially congratulated him on his primary victory, it reversed course when his comments came to light.

Michigan GOP co-chair Ron Weiser, who is Jewish, called Regan’s comments “beyond the pale,” adding, “I absolutely expect better than this of our candidates.” The party’s communications director memorably tweeted that Regan was “possibly the worst candidate I’ve ever seen.” The party did not call on Regan to step down, instead staying out of the race entirely.

Finally, unlike most politicians, Regan lost a seat he was heavily favored to win. In the May 3 special election to replace a retiring state House member, he lost the conservative district to Democrat Carol Glanville, who got 7,288 votes to Regan’s 5,697 and became the first Democrat to hold the seat in a decade.

“West Michigan values of integrity, decency, and care for the common good won tonight,” Glanville said in a statement announcing her victory.

A protester stands outside Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2020, flanked by anti-Israel and antisemitic signs. (Alex Sherman/Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

In his concession, Regan called himself “an America First Republican” and lashed out at “the RINO Republican establishment.”

During his campaign, Regan had insisted he was “not antisemitic,” but did not apologize for his social media posts, instead attacking “the left trolls trying to get some attention because they know where I stand on the issues.”

Regan had run multiple times for the state House seat in the past, including in 2020, when one of his daughters urged Michigan residents to not vote for him, “Please, for the love of God.”

The district will be redrawn for the next election in November. Regan has indicated on social media that he intends to run for the seat again in the August Republican primary.

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