(June 11, 2020 / JNS) The Republican Jewish Coalition has said it will not be backing a Republican congressional candidate in in a safely Republican district in Georgia who posted for photos with a former neo-Nazi leader.
Following the Tuesday primary, Georgia state Rep. Matt Gurtler advanced to a runoff on Aug. 11 against firearms dealer Andrew Clyde in the state’s Ninth Congressional District. He is vying to succeed Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who is running against incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in November to finish the final two years of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
(In November, all candidates, regardless of partisan affiliation, will be on the November ballot.)
Isakson retired at the end of 2019 due to health reasons. If no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in January.
Gurtler has posed for photos with former Ku Klux Klan leader Chester Doles, who has a criminal record that includes beating a black male nearly to death because he was seen accompanying a white woman and violating federal gun laws.
Doles attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., marked by violence between far-right parties and protesters, which led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer after a 20-year-old man from Ohio rammed a crowd of people with his car.
Gurtler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he, as requested by a constituent, appeared at an event for “a pro-gun, conservative group that supports [U.S.] President Trump” that was founded by Doles. Gurtler claims that after the event he posted for a picture with the speakers. The “context is straightforward,” he told the outlet.
Gurtler is not the only Republican congressional candidate in Georgia who has posed for photos with Doles.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a businesswoman who advanced to a runoff against neurosurgeon John Cowan in the state’s 14th Congressional District to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), posted her photos with Doles on social media.
RJC executive director Matt Brooks told JNS on Tuesday that his organization hasn’t “been following this race, and it’s not on our targeted list of races.” He added that if Greene wins, “we will not be endorsing her or supporting her.”
Regarding Gurtler, Brooks told Jewish Insider that his organization will also not support or endorse him.
Gurtler has been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and backed by a political action committee tied to the right-wing group Club for Growth. He is also backed by a super PAC called Protect Freedom PAC.
Paul, Massie and Club for Growth and Protect Freedom PAC did not respond to requests for comment from Jewish Insider.
Greene has been endorsed by prominent right-wingers, including Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Charlie Kirk, founder of the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA.
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