(JTA) — After being condemned by his party, the Republican nominee for a Michigan state House seat said he is “not antisemitic” despite sharing several Facebook posts that promote antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Robert Regan, a Grand Rapids resident who recently won his party’s nomination for an upcoming special election in the heavily conservative 74th district, told the Grand Rapids Press that the idea that he is a hateful person is “ridiculous.”
“People that know me, they know I’m not antisemitic, they know I’m not a racist, they know I’m not a homophobe,” Regan said.
Regan has shared several antisemitic Facebook posts, including one stating that feminism is “a Jewish program to degrade and subjugate white men.” Another used the white-supremacist shorthand “triple parentheses” used to identify Jews online, and another called Jewish financier and political activist George Soros a “Jewish communist investor” and “pure evil.”
Regan also defended comments about rape he made during a recorded conversation in which he expressed support for decertifying Michigan’s 2020 election results. In the original video, he said, “I tell my daughters, well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.”
He made those comments, he told the Grand Rapids Press, because the others on the call with him were telling him to stop focusing on the 2020 election, and he wanted to demonstrate that “you would never tell a daughter if it’s inevitable you should lie back and enjoy it,” adding, “nobody likes to be taken advantage of.”
Regan did not apologize for his antisemitic posts, instead blaming the bad press on “the left trolls trying to get some attention because they know where I stand on the issues.” He admitted that he “probably” could have phrased his rape comments better.
Regan has been heavily criticized by members of his own party over his comments.
“Mr. Regan’s history of foolish, egregious and offensive comments, including his most recent one are simply beyond the pale,” Michigan GOP Co-Chair Ron Weiser, who is Jewish, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are better than this as a Party and I absolutely expect better than this of our candidates.”
Weiser did not specify which of Regan’s comments he was referring to.
The local county’s GOP Chair Rob VerHeulen, who was also the district’s former representative, called on Regan to deliver an apology. Neither Weiser nor the state Republican party have called on Regan to step down, though the Michigan Freedom Fund, a statewide conservative advocacy group, said the comments “completely disqualify him from holding public office.”
Regan has not responded to request for comment from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
In a statement, Michigan Democrats condemned Regan for his rape comments, his views on the 2020 election and his commentary that Ukraine is “culpable” for the ongoing Russian invasion. The state Democratic Party said such comments were “disgusting,” but did not mention his antisemitic posts. Noah Arbit, chair of the Michigan Jewish Democratic Caucus, told the Grand Rapids Press that Regan is a “noxious, vile, antisemite, misogynist and white supremacist” and that he has shared “multiple hateful, antisemitic messages on social media.”
The special state House election will take place May 3. The winner will only serve for less than eight months before the district is redrawn for 2023.