An anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim commentator running for the US House is being disavowed by yet another Republican candidate for US Senate.
Kelli Ward, who is running in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary, publicly praised Paul Nehlen in 2016 and 2017, including supporting Nehlen’s unsuccessful 2016 primary bid to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. Ward now says Nehlen’s “recent views” are “outrageous.”
Ward’s distancing from Nehlen comes just a week after Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart, who won the state’s GOP nomination on Tuesday, also publicly cut ties with him.
“Paul Nehlen and I both ran against powerful establishment incumbents in 2016, so our paths crossed a few times in that regard,” Ward said in a statement downplaying her association with Nehlen to CNN. “However, recent views espoused by Nehlen are outrageous and antithetical to my own. Nehlen and other fringe elements who hold similar views have absolutely no place in the Republican Party. I disagree with his statements – none of which have anything to do with me – and remain committed to running a positive campaign to support hard-working Arizonans and help President Trump drain the swamp.”
Earlier this year, Nehlen was widely condemned for tweeting that critics of him were Jewish and shortly after that he was banned from Twitter following a racist tweet about Prince Harry’s then-fiancée Meghan Markle. Ward’s praise of Nehlen occurred before his anti-Semitic tweets, although during the time they were associated, Nehlen had already shared tweets defending anti-Semitic Twitter user Ricky Vaughn from a Twitter ban, suggested that Bill and Hillary Clinton were murderers and shared anti-Muslim tweets from anti-Semitic commentator Jared Wyland.
Both Ward and her husband in August 2016 backed Nehlen’s campaign for Congress against Ryan. Ward appeared with Nehlen that same month on the far-right radio show “TruNews,” where Ward said she and Nehlen offered, “so much hope to the people that the GOP establishment, that aura of impermeability and impenetrable strength that they have is being punctured.”
Ward invited Nehlen on her radio program in November 2016 and as recently as spring in 2017 was photographed with him at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Nehlen praised Ward online in October 2017, posting a series of comments on Facebook calling Ward “a friend,” praising her campaign, and blasting opposition to Ward from a Mitch McConnell-linked group.
Ward is one of three candidates running for the Republican nomination to fill Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat. She’s running to the right of establishment favorite Rep. Martha McSally and has tried to cast herself as the candidate most supportive of President Donald Trump in the race.
Nehlen is again running this year for Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin, which Ryan will be vacating with his announced retirement from the House.
On her radio show “The Kelli Ward Connection” on November 9, 2016, Nehlen endorsed Ward’s current Senate bid. Ward thanked Nehlen for appearing and pointed her listeners and Twitter followers to Nehlen’s bid to be elected Speaker of the House.
In January 2017, Ward tweeted a photo of herself with Nehlen at the DeploraBall, an inauguration event organized and attended and organized by many of Trump’s far-right online supporters.
“It was great to see him in #DC at the #DeploraBall,” she wrote.
Nehlen’s rhetoric had increased further at that point. In early January he retweeted a poll asking if white nationalist Richard Spencer and alt-right troll Baked Alaska should be invited to the DeploraBall. He was also tweeting about deporting Muslims and supporting Ward.
A photo posted by Nehlen in October of 2017 on Facebook shows Nehlen posing for a photo with Ward at CPAC, which occurred earlier that year in March 2017.