Michigan House candidate denounced for comments about rape

Mar 8, 2022, 1:19 PM | Updated: 4:31 pm

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Top Michigan Republicans on Tuesday denounced a state House candidate over his remarks about rape, the latest in a number of controversial comments from the man who narrowly won a special GOP primary a week ago.

Robert “RJ” Regan made the statements Sunday in a livestream hosted by a conservative group. He advocated for decertifying the 2020 presidential election, telling another participant who said it is too late to do anything that her attitude is like what he tells his three daughters: “Well if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.”

On the day of his upset victory in Kent County’s four-person primary, he called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “fake war just like the fake pandemic.” He also shared antisemitic social media posts in 2021.

State Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said in a statement that Regan’s “history of foolish, egregious and offensive comments, including his most recent one, are simply beyond the pale. We are better than this as a party and I absolutely expect better than this of our candidates.” Weiser had congratulated Regan last week.

Similar condemnations were made by the Kent County GOP chairman, House Speaker Jason Wentworth and Sen. Mark Huizenga, whose elevation to the chamber last fall opened up the Republican-heavy seat that Regan is favored to fill in a May election. Democrats and the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund had begun rebuking Regan a day before.

“As a Christian, a public servant and a father of two daughters, I find Robert Regan’s comments about sexual assault to be revolting and immoral, and I strongly denounce them,” Huizenga said in a statement. “His statements about Russia’s unprovoked attack of a sovereign country are contrary to our own nation’s values, and his antisemitic posts claiming Jewish people control the banks and were behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks are shameful and disgusting.”

The Associated Press left email and Facebook messages seeking comment from Regan.

If elected, he will serve through 2022 and has indicated he will also run later this year for a full two-year term. The results of the primary, which Regan won by 71 votes out of roughly 7,300 cast, are unofficial until they are certified by canvassers.

Democrats said Republicans should try to remove Regan from the special general election ballot, though it was not immediately clear if that is allowed under the law.

“Anything short of that shows support for this kind of toxic rhetoric,” Kent County Democratic Party Chair Bill Saxton said.

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This story corrects the number of votes cast in the Republican primary.

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Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

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Michigan House candidate denounced for comments about rape