In the six-plus years since Donald Trump came down the escalator of Trump Tower, the Republicans have proven time and again that they are not fit to govern. They stuck with Trump even after it was amply demonstrated that he was a thug, a boor, and a bully. They propped up candidates and incumbents who breached every standard of decency that is known. And worst of all, they spread dangerous lies about Trump having a second term stolen from him despite ample evidence that he and others knew he had lost—which in turn sparked a violent insurrection.
Well, add another to the list. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that J. R. Majewski, the Republican seeking to upend 20-term incumbent Marcy Kaptur in Ohio’s 9th congressional district, blatantly lied about serving in the Air Force in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. In truth, he never actually deployed to Afghanistan, but instead spent six months loading planes well out of the war zone. Daily Kos’ Rebekah Sager covered this here.
One would have thought that someone in Ohio or Washington would have had the decency to tell Majewski to drop out of the race. That’s exactly what would have happened in a country with a more civilized political climate. But for now, the GOP is speaking with its wallet. According to Axios, the National Republican Congressional Committee had a large batch of ad buys in the Toledo-based 9th for the homestretch of the campaign—but is canceling them all in the wake of Majewski’s lies. It’s not enough in my mind, though. Majewski must be told—not asked—to withdraw from the race.
Earlier on Thursday, James LaPorta, who co-authored the AP’s shredding of Majewski with Brian Slodysko, updated the story with links to documents proving that Majewski had built his campaign on stolen valor.
Read the documents here. LaPorta and Slodysko obtained them via a public records request. They show that Majewski spent the better part of his career based at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. In May 2002, he was deployed to Qatar as a “passenger operations specialist,” where he helped load and unload planes.
Apparently someone at the NRCC saw those documents. On Thursday afternoon, political ad tracker Medium Buying revealed that the NRCC was yanking all of its advertising on Majewski’s behalf.
Shortly afterward, Axios senior political correspondent Josh Kraushaar revealed that the NRCC has essentially handed Kaptur a 21st term.
Kraushaar later reported that the NRCC yanked about $1 million worth of ads from the Toledo market.
Calling this an embarrassment for the red team is being kind to it. Due to a brutal gerrymander rammed through the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature, Kaptur now found herself in a district that Trump would have won 51-48. By comparison, Biden carried her old district by a punishing 59-40 margin. However, Toledo has long been a blue dot in a sea that’s as red as an Ohio State jersey, so shifting the district just a few miles to the west to take in territory previously in the heavily Republican 5th district dramatically altered its political landscape. However, two state legislators split the vote, allowing Majewski to win the primary with a paltry 36%.
It says something that Majewski still had a chance in this district despite being forced to walk back his past support of QAnon, as well as lamenting that he didn’t enter the Capitol on Jan. 6. Remember, despite the Republicans’ best efforts to bludgeon Kaptur out of office, the best they could do was a district that Trump would have won by three. And now they’ve essentially waved the white flag.
But pulling ads is not enough, in my mind. The lies about Majewski’s past have shown not just beyond reasonable doubt, but ALL doubt, that he is not fit for office. Indeed, his only comments to the AP about its findings were nothing more than Trumpian deflection, saying that “my accomplishments and record are under attack.” Said accomplishments and record have now been exposed as lies.
There are times when it is better to have no candidate in a race than someone who is unfit. This is one of them. If Majewski has anything at all in him, his next statement will be an apology for his deceit—and an announcement that he’s withdrawing from the race. And if he isn’t willing to do so, someone from the Ohio GOP or the national GOP ought to tell him to do so. It may be too much to ask from a state where one of the most prominent Republicans is Rep. Jim “Do What We Said” Jordan. But there are certain things that can’t be tolerated in a country with civilized discourse—and building a campaign on stolen valor is one of them.