WASHINGTON (JTA) – A Republican candidate for the Senate drew fire from Jewish groups for likening no-smoking laws to the yellow stars that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
John Raese, who is seeking to oust Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), lashed out at laws that require his businesses to post no-smoking signs.
"In Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke-free environment," he said in remarks at an April 12 GOP event that were first reported by Politico. "This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. OK? Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing."
Raese owns a business that produces steel and limestone, as well as a number of radio stations and a tourism site.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center blasted the comparison as "inappropriate" and "callous."
"It compares signs that are meant to protect people’s health with the yellow stars designed to dehumanize and degrade millions of Jews by a racist, genocidal regime,” it said in a statement.
The National Jewish Democratic Council called on Raese to apologize.
Raese stood by the comments.
"I don’t see anything that’s incorrect in any of the statements I made," he told The Charleston Gazette. "It’s all very factual."