A Missouri Republican who has made anti-Semitic and other bigoted statements handily won a primary for the state’s House of Representatives.
Steve West, who promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on a radio show he hosts, defeated three other candidates Tuesday in the bid for a seat representing Clay County. He won with 49.5 percent of the vote; the second-place finisher had 24.4 percent.
“Looking back in history, unfortunately, Hitler was right about what was taking place in Germany. And who was behind it,” West said on KCXL radio in January 2017, The Kansas City Star reported Thursday.
He has spoken of “Jewish cabals” that are “harvesting baby parts” from Planned Parenthood, abuse children and control the Republican Party. West also has a YouTube channel on which he has made homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and racist statements, according to The Star.
West will face Democratic incumbent Jon Carpenter in November.
On Thursday, the Missouri Republican Party denounced West’s “shocking and vile” comments.
“West’s abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere. We wholeheartedly condemn his comments,” the party told The Star.
Reached by The Star, West said his comments were taken out of context, but went on to criticize both Judaism and Islam.
“Jewish people can be beautiful people, but there’s ideologies associated with that that I don’t agree with,” he said. “Jews today are a remnant of the tribe of Judah that rejected Christ.”
When asked about Jewish people in Missouri, he said, “Well, maybe they shouldn’t vote for me.”
The local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League said it was not sure why West’s comments had not been publicized earlier.
“I’m trying to get a sense of why he flew under the radar, and I’m not sure I have a great answer,” said Karen Aroesty, who directs the organization’s operations in Missouri, Southern Illinois and Eastern Kansas.
“What is a person who is elected into a position of power going to do with beliefs like this?” she asked.
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’s campaign platform does not mention Jews, but contains a section titled “Islam is a Problem for America” and says that “most parents don’t want their children recieving (sic) alternative sex ed, or having to deal with or be around the LGBT clubs.”
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.”