The Kansas City Republican repeatedly denounced by his own party — and his own children — for espousing bigoted views will be back on the Missouri ballot in November.
Steve West won the Missouri House District 15 primary race Tuesday night even after some family members campaigned against him. West edged out Adam Richardson by 61 votes — 1,342 to 1,281, according to the Secretary of State’s unofficial election results.
West will face Democrat Maggie Nurrenbern of Kansas City in the Nov. 3 general election. The district covers Gladstone and a part of Kansas City, North.
West made headlines in 2018 after winning his GOP primary when word spread about a radio show and website through which he regularly spewed an array of bigotry, including homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and outright racism. He lost in the general election to incumbent Rep. Jon Carpenter, who had held the seat since 2013. Carpenter did not run for re-election because Missouri law limits state representatives to four two-year terms.
Andrew West and his sister came forward before the November 2018 election, publicly urging voters not to support their father, whom they described as a “fanatic” who was “racist,” “homophobic” and “doesn’t like Jews.”
West’s victory on Tuesday once again puts Missouri GOP leaders in an awkward position. After he filed to run in February, House leaders issued a statement saying that “West’s abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere.”
Jean Evans, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, told The Star on Wednesday that “our previous statement stands.” “We will not be offering any support to that candidate,” she said.
Last week, some family members distributed a flier in his district telling people not to vote for West. The flier said the district would be portrayed as “bigoted, backwards and anti-Semitic” if West won the Republican nomination.
“Let’s stop the circus,” it said. “Don’t vote for Steve.”
The flier contained a quote from West in which he said Jews “shouldn’t have the right to serve in any elected office, they shouldn’t have the right to contribute to political campaigns, because they are trying to poison this country for the benefit of Israel.” The flier also directed voters to a website, StopSteve.org, for a collection of West’s quotes and media stories about him.
Andrew West said the Missouri Republican Party shares some of the blame for his father’s victory. “The Republican leadership has completely given up on the district,” he said. “It’s a complete failure. They let the circus go on and didn’t stop it. We only lost by about 60 votes. We only put about 700 fliers out. If we could have gotten more fliers out, it could have been a different election.”
Nurrenbern said she was disappointed to see West win a primary for the second time in two years. “He certainly has been campaigning with the same rhetoric as before,” she told The Star on Wednesday. “There’s no disguising who he is. I wanted to think that the first time was a fluke — that he snuck through there. But this time, I just don’t know what to say.”
Nurrenbern said West sent several mailings to voters in the district. One contained homophobic rhetoric, she said, and another, which he called a “Special Women’s Edition,” was “incredibly vile.”
“I had to decompress after reading it.”
Nurrenbern, a high school teacher in North Kansas City, said she sees West’s campaign as a way to educate the public. “The Republican voters have given him a platform again,” she said. “Unfortunately, we are in a time where that sort of white nationalist rhetoric is not addressed nearly to the degree that it should be.
“As a community, as a state, as a nation, we have to do a better job of addressing this, making sure we’re spreading love and truth, because that’s what this boils down to.”
The ADL Heartland issued a statement about West on Wednesday, saying that “bigots have been a stronger presence in mainstream politics in the last few years.”
West’s current campaign and radio show websites indicate that the hate and vitriol has not subsided, the ADL said. “As a nonprofit agency, we can’t take a position on candidates or campaigns, but as an agency that fights hate every day and seeks innovative ways to bring community together to work for the common good, we hope voters will carefully educate themselves about all candidates running for office.”