Earlier this year, the Minnesota Republican Party apologized for screening a video of a statewide candidate that depicted Jewish billionaire George Soros as a puppet-master controlling Jewish Democrats. That didn’t stop the candidate — now standing as the party’s nominee for secretary of state — from promoting another conspiracy theory about Soros, this time in front of a Jewish audience.
“We’ve had 16 years of a Soros-funded secretary of state’s office that has left us disconnected from the civic tradition of in-person voting,” Kim Crockett, who won the GOP primary for Minnesota’s chief elections officer earlier this month, said during a candidate forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition in Minneapolis. A recording of her remarks at the closed-for-press event was obtained by the Forward on Thursday.
Crockett, who called the 2020 presidential election “rigged,” is running against the Democratic incumbent Steve Simon, who is Jewish. She’s hardly the only Republican running in a competitive race to oversee a state’s elections who has both trafficked in antisemitic stereotypes and questioned the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s win. Candidates in other swing states — Nevada and Michigan — have also made similar baseless allegations about the 2020 contest, and invoked the conspiracy theory about Soros, which the Anti-Defamation League has deemed a common antisemitic trope.
In Crockett’s case, her campaign in a promotional video for the state’s GOP convention in May, depicted the two-term incumbent and Marc Elias, a prominent Democratic elections lawyer, as being controlled by puppet strings held by Soros.
While the State GOP apologized for screening the video, Crockett never expressed regret. In an email to supporters on May 20, Crockett doubled down, calling the criticism “contrived and bogus.” She also shared a photo of herself reading a book authored by Fox News host Tucker Carlson – who in January aired a documentary against Soros – as “an apt illustration” of how she was feeling.
In an interview, Simon said it was “unfortunate” that Crockett chose to criticize the apology. “It shows that she is shockingly and stubbornly resistant to reflecting how she might say and do things better,” he said.
Simon, who was first elected to the position in 2014, said his Jewish identity is “central” to who he is and his public service. He said his great grandfather fled from Lithuania in Eastern Europe before World War I in 1891, a year after Jews lost their right to vote under the Russian Empire. “That’s not lost on me, given the work that I do,” he said.
The campaign was not the first time Simon was a target of antisemitism. He said that since he first won elected office in 2004, as a member of the Minnesota State House of Representatives, he has been occasionally targeted with antisemitic attacks and images, including a threat that he said was rooted in antisemitism.
Crockett is one of several Republican candidates vying for secretary of state who question the integrity of the 2020 election and have used antisemitic tropes or invoked the Holocaust in their campaigns. (At least 11 GOP nominees for the office have questioned the legitimacy of the election.)
Kristina Karamo, a Republican candidate for Michigan’s secretary of state, accused the Democratic incumbent, Jocelyn Benson, of being a Soros “puppet.” Karamo, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is competing for the position at the Republican convention scheduled for Saturday. She previously made similar comments, claiming Benson, who is Jewish, and the state’s Jewish attorney general, Dana Nessel, are “all part of the Soros minion club.”
Carolyn Normandin, the ADL’s regional director in Michigan, said in a statement that Karamo’s comments “have antisemitism written all over them.”
Jim Marchant, Nevada’s Republican nominee for secretary of state, promoted similar conspiracy theories about Soros. And earlier this month, he said the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort was equal to what Adolf Hitler did with the Nazi Brown Shirts, the militia that helped him rise to power.
Elliot Malin, a small business owner in Reno who has been active in Jewish causes, said “it’s very concerning when people that are running for office are are making antisemitic comments” that could be taken as a green light for harming Jews. Malin, who recently wrote an op-ed about the spike in antisemitism in political discourse, said members of the community are paying close attention to these statements given the competitive nature of elections in the state of Nevada.
On Thursday, CNN reported past comments made by Crockett, in which she said the 2020 election was akin to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and encouraged activists to sign up as election judges and poll watchers so they can exercise their “biblical citizenship,” a common theme used by Christian nationalists.
Simon said the November election is a “choice between reality and conspiracy theories.”
“It is okay to have political views,” he added.”But you have to demonstrate that you can put those views aside in order to administer elections in a fair way. And so it’s unhelpful to be subscribing to multiple unproven conspiracy theories, a kind of thinking that can even lead to violence.”
Scott Jensen, the Minnesota Republican nominee for governor, who invoked Kristallnacht and Hitler at a recent anti-mask mandate rally, also spoke at the RJC candidate forum for statewide and congressional candidates, via video, doubling down on his Holocaust analogy.
In her remarks at Tuesday’s event, Crockett called Elias, head of a voting rights group, Democracy Docket, as a “powerful DNC lawyer” and “the man who came in and found the votes that knocked our Norm Coleman out of the Senate and replaced him with Al Franken.” Elias rose to prominence during the 2008 Minnesota recount that sent Franken to the Senate after a close election against then-Sen. Norm Coleman, who is now the RJC’s national chair.
Elias said in a tweet that neither Crockett nor the Republican Party has apologized for the video he was featured in.
The Crockett campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.