The Ohio Republican Senate nominee has also been accused of making offensive comments about Jews.
In his Senate campaign, Ohio Republican nominee J.D. Vance has positioned himself as a friend to Ohio's Jewish community and pushed back on claims that Republicans are racist. But he has also associated himself with people with an overt history of antisemitism and ties to white nationalism.
Vance is running against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in the November midterm election for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
Though he once called former President Donald Trump "reprehensible" for his bigoted views, Vance has since expressed regret for those criticisms and has morphed into a full-throated Trump supporter.
In April, he tweeted that he was "incredibly honored" to have Trump's endorsement, which tops his list of endorsements from "national figures."
Trump has a long history of making antisemitic comments and spreading antisemitic tropes. He has suggested that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States; complained about "Jewish people that run The New York Times"; framed Jews as concerned only about money; and suggested that only "disloyal" Jews vote for Democrats.
Trump also praised white nationalists who rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 as "very fine people."
Vance's website features an endorsement from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was stripped of all her committee assignments through a House resolution in February 2021 over conduct that did not "reflect credibility on the House," including a long history of bigoted remarks.
Prior to her election to Congress, Greene shared conspiracy theories on social media that Jews were attempting to destroy Europe via "immigration and miscegenation" and that the Jewish Rothschild family controlled secret space lasers that caused a deadly wildfire in California.
Since taking office, she repeatedly compared COVID-19 vaccination efforts to Nazi Germany, and she spoke at the white nationalist America First Political Action Conference in February.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called her participation in that event "appalling and wrong," but Vance defended her, saying during a debate in March, "She is my friend, and she did nothing wrong."
Vance has also stood by Republican House candidate J.R. Majewski even after Majewski publicly praised Andrew Torba, the antisemitic CEO of the Gab social media network, as "[one] of America's Greatest Patriots."
In a Sept. 28 tweet, the Ohio AFL-CIO shared a photo of Majewski and Vance campaigning together at a rally in Plain City; both also took part in a Sept. 17 rally with Trump in Youngstown.
Majewski has promoted and created a fictitious online alter ego with which he sells souvenirs, including clothing emblazoned with Confederate and Gadsden flags. A Majewski spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about the site.
Vance's candidacy has been substantially bankrolled by billionaire anti-government activist Peter Thiel. According to a 2020 report by BuzzFeed, Thiel worked to reelect Trump that year by hosting a dinner with white nationalist Kevin DeAnna and reaching out to other prominent white supremacists.
Vance himself was accused of antisemitism and racism after suggesting in January that if Ohio prohibited abortion, "Then every day, George Soros sends a 747 to Columbus to load up disproportionately Black women to get them to go have abortions in California. Of course, the left will celebrate this as a victory for diversity."
Asked by the Jerusalem Post in July about rising antisemitism during a CPAC Israel event in Tel Aviv, Vance answered, "America remains one of the great places to live if you are Jewish. The question now is how to reverse the negative trend of the last years" and said that "antisemitism is a particular kind of crime. You have to enforce the law. If you beat up a Jew and don't face consequences, the attacks will continue and get worse."
A Vance campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Democratic Senate nominee Ryan is running on a promise to work to end racial disparities. Throughout his time in the House of Representatives, he has repeatedly backed efforts to combat antisemitism.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.