Washington republicans try to distance themselves from newly elected white supremacist

Exclusive: 'We condemn this hateful ideology'

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 20 June 2018 18:05
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The Republican Party’s leadership in Washington state is scrambling to distance itself from James Allsup, a self-proclaimed “pro-European nationalist” who won an uncontested election in the local Republican primaries.

State law says Mr Allsup is already the certified winner of the election ending in August, since he went uncontested during the filing period to become a precinct committee officer (PCO) in Whitman County. If local officials have their way, however, the white nationalist — who participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and later had his Twitter account suspended during a far-right purge by the platform — won’t be seated when his term begins in December.

John Brabb, chairman of the Whitman County Republican Central Committee, told The Independent a board of review had been created “to look at whether there are PCOs who do not represent the people and standards of the places in which they live”.

“It’s mostly driven by concern from the public,” Mr Brabb continued. “We’re looking into whether there are bylaws already in place that can prevent someone from serving who doesn’t follow our values and our constitution.”

It's commonplace for PCOs in Washington to secure seats in uncontested elections long before voters head to the polls. That is often the result of a lack in candidates signing up for vacant positions, according to Sue Lani Madsen, a former Republican PCO and party chairwoman in Lincoln County, Washington.

“All [Allsup] did was sign up, it takes five minutes online,” she said. “The problem county chairs often have is finding people to sign up for anything, so the last thing on their minds is trying to police anyone signing up to become a PCO.”

Nazi shouts "Hey n****" and fires gunshot at counter-protester in Charlottesville

Mr Allsup, who did not respond to requests for comment, gained national notoriety as president of the Washington State College Republicans when photos of him attending a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville went viral. He stepped down from the position, but later announced that he had been re-elected last year. The group released a statement declaring the vote “null and void” by their chapter adviser and a university office.

Mr Brabb said he remembered meeting with Mr Allsup when he was the head of the university’s Republican club, and didn't recall having any concerns with him at the time. As a PCO, the recent college graduate would gain entry-level experience in a position often considered to be a foundation of local politics.

PCOs have minimal influence in state and local governments; perhaps their biggest power is having a say in filling vacant positions during their tenures in office. Mr Allsup recently explained this to the neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa, saying in an episode of their podcast, “When the board is then deciding between, you know, the anti-white, pro-business, pro-migrant candidate, or the more perhaps implicitly pro-white, anti-immigration candidate, you have the opportunity to then be a convincing and, perhaps, deciding voice in that process.”

He has also repeatedly called on his online supporters to seek out positions in local offices. “We cannot podcast, livestream, or tweet our way to victory,” Mr Allsup said during an Identity Evropa conference last month. ”We can only change consciousness so much before we have to start changing the political infrastructure.”

“The Republican Party is comprised largely of white, ageing, baby-boomers. And as baby-boomers age out, the positions they hold will become vacant all throughout society and somebody will have to fill them,” he continued.

Still, Republicans in Washington appear unlikely to welcome Mr Allsup or other white supremacists any time soon. Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, said in a statement the state’s GOP condemns “identity politics, and any form of racism, in the strongest possible manner.”

“It is antithetical to our core values and stands counter to our goal of getting Washington back on the right track. We condemned this hateful ideology before, we condemn it today, and will continue to condemn it in the future,” the statement reads.

Grant Peterson, a Republican activist and former commissioner of Spokane County, Washington, also said in a statement Mr Allsup is not likely to be officially seated.

“If he believes in white supremacy, he cannot be counted as supporting the U.S. Constitution, the Washington constitution or the Republican platform,” Mr Peterson said. ”If he doesn’t support the goals of the party, his membership is at risk. If he’s not a member, he can’t serve as a PCO.”

Numerous other Republican officials in Washington have spoken out against Mr Allsup, including Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who said in a Facebook post she was “disappointed” by the appointment while calling on her constituents to “to stand united against hatred.”

The review board will submit their findings prior to the GOP’s county reorganisation meetings in December, and officials could end up producing bylaws during that time which prevent Allsup from serving. There’s precedent of that happening in numerous other counties throughout Washington, according to Ms Madsen.

“A couple counties beefed up their bylaws and created an after-the-fact vetting procedure due to the Ron Paul movement, as libertarians were trying to take control, and others have created membership criteria,” she said. “But if Allsup wanted to be a real knucklehead, he could sue the county for his spot ... Who knows what he’ll do.”

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