Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun has a lot of baggage, to put it mildly.
The incendiary, vicious circus that is the Indiana Republican Senate primary has finally come to an end. But Mike Braun, the Republican who won the right to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, is not exactly top-tier material.
A former state representative and CEO of Meyer Distributing, Braun has one extraordinary distinction on his plate: He hired, and then awkwardly had to fire, a white supremacist from his Senate campaign.
In November, the Associated Press revealed Braun had to terminate his aide Caleb Schumaker, who had former ties to the National Youth Front, a now-defunct division of the neo-segregationist American Freedom Party that sought to recruit 18- to 35-year-olds into white nationalism.
Schumaker, who gathered signatures for Braun and appeared at GOP functions on his behalf, has produced online video manifestos in which he makes "declarations of war" against diversity and says America has been "fractured by a failed utopian social experiment of massive immigration and multiculturalism."
Braun's campaign subsequently condemned Schumaker's beliefs as "disgusting." But his team failed to explain how Braun ever came to hire someone who had openly racist tirades posted online.
Braun, however, is hardly unique in tarnishing the Republican Party with links to extreme white nationalists.
Trump's favorite Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Lou Barletta, headlined an anti-immigration rally with a Holocaust denier and once sat for an interview with a magazine that called 9/11 a "Jewish plot." And one GOP candidate for Colorado governor in 2017, former congressman Tom Tancredo, has ties to the white supremacist group VDARE.
Indeed, some Republican candidates themselves are now openly running as white supremacists.
Arthur Jones, a former official in the American Nazi Party who called the Holocaust an "international extortion racket," is the GOP nominee for Illinois' 3rd Congressional District. Other white supremacist GOP House candidates include former KKK organizer John Abarr of Montana and Paul Nehlen of Wisconsin.
And then there is Patrick Little, a Republican running for Senate in California who has been endorsed by Klan leader David Duke, calls Adolf Hitler "the second coming of Christ," and is running on an explicit platform of removing Jews from the United States. He was kicked out of the GOP state convention, but the most recent poll suggested he has a genuine shot of making it into the general election.
Braun's hiring of a former member of a white nationalist "youth front" may have been an accident, as he claimed. But it's one that even the most modest amount of due diligence ought to have prevented. And it fits in all too disturbingly well with many others in his party.
And now he's the Indiana Republican candidate for Senate.