A Neo-Nazi podcaster named Joseph Gibson III has been cleared to run in the Republican primary for the State House seat of District 65, which encompasses Rockingham County. There had previously been a challenge to his candidacy brought by a local Rockingham Republican on the grounds that he was a convicted felon. However, the State Board of Elections has unanimously ruled that he’s eligible to run having completed his parole.
The most pressing issue about Mr. Gibson is not that he is a parolee. It’s that he has a stated affinity for Hitler and has been described by the neo-Nazi Nationalist Socialist Movement as “one of our members”. His podcast features regular diatribes about Jews and every other minority group. And, terrifyingly, he received thousands of votes from Republican primary voters last time he ran in 2022.
We applaud the small number of individual Republicans, like State House staffer Stephen Wiley and the Rockingham County Chair Diane Parnell, who have spoken out about Mr. Gibson and condemned his Nazi ties. But condemnation of Nazism within the party should be the rule, not the exception. It must be institutional, not individual. It should not have taken 2 years for Republicans to begin speaking out about this, just as it should not have taken 6 years for a Republican candidate to condemn Mark Robinson’s record of Holocaust denial after those comments were unearthed in 2018. If the Republican Party is serious about combatting anti-Semitism, it’s time for them to prove it.
We call on the state’s Republican leaders, Party Chair Michael Whatley and Speaker Tim Moore, to 1) Issue a formal condemnation of Joseph Gibson’s candidacy and 2) to declare that they will refuse to seat him in the State Legislature should he win the election. Failure to do so will be viewed by the Jewish community of our state as an admission that the GOP can tolerate Nazi ideology so long as it gets them one additional vote in the State House. In 2018, when the NCGOP had another Nazi candidate, previous Chairman Robin Hayes did disavow him. We’re disappointed that newer Republican leadership has not yet had the courage to do the right thing this time.
For us, this race is painfully similar to the Republican primary for state Attorney General in 1979. Harold Covington, the leader of the Nationalist Socialist Party of America, won a majority of Republican voters in 45 out of North Carolina’s 100 counties after hosting an event called “Hitler-Fest”. When asked how he did so well despite his Nazi ties, he asserted that “There are many closet Nazis in the Republican Party”. We look forward to the North Carolina Republican Party demonstrating that Mr. Covington’s assertion does not ring true today.