House Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement Wednesday that he will not seek another term could open the door for a white supremacist to win the Republican Party’s primary in his district.
Paul Nehlen, who was banned from Twitter in February after a series of racist and anti-Semitic tweets, is now the most prominent Republican candidate in Wisconsin’s First District.
Nehlen, who ran and lost against Ryan 84%-16% in 2016, reacted to the news on Facebook, his primary means of communicating with the public. Ryan’s retirement is “good news for America, bad news for special interests who bought Paul Ryan’s vote,” he wrote. “My focus has always been on YOU.”
Nehlen asked for donations, noting that fundraising portals like PayPal and Anedot have broken ties with him, which he blamed on “economic terrorists.”
But fellow white nationalists have distanced themselves from Nehlen in recent months because many felt he was being too overt in his racist sentiments. Nehlen was banned last week from Gab, a Twitter-like platform popular with the “alt-right,” after revealing the secret identity of a prominent troll with whom he had ideological disagreements.
The state Republican party condemned Nehlen in February after his Twitter ban. Another candidate, Army veteran and security consultant Nick Polce, is also running in the Republican primary. Other candidates have until June 1 to declare their candidacy.
As of the end of 2017, the latest quarter for which Federal Election Commission figures are available, Nehlen has raised over $162,000 in individual campaign contributions, compared to $950 for Polce.