JIM SHARPE

Is Kern’s kind of kooky becoming the new GOP brand?

May 7, 2024, 12:00 PM

PHOENIX — Arizona state Sen. Anthony Kern was in hot water before appearing on a Hitler admirer’s podcast, so his defense (which is basically “I didn’t know who this guy was”) is just more noise surrounding the guy. 

Remember, Kern was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day of the deadly riot that was started by supporters of former President Donald Trump. (The term “Trump supporter” defines Kern — so you know he wasn’t there defending the Capitol.) 

And Kern is currently facing criminal charges for being a fake elector: accused by a grand jury of trying to fraudulently have Trump declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona.

Unlike those situations, though, Anthony Kern — who is running to replace the retiring Debbie Lesko in Congress in Arizona’s CD8 — seems to accept the punishment he’s been handed for appearing on a podcast with wanna-be talk show host Stew Peters — a podcaster who has declared Adolf Hitler a hero. 

Kern reached out to KTAR News to explain himself. He told us in an exclusive interview on Monday afternoon that he had no clue that Peters hearts Hitler.

“I haven’t had time to research this guy [Peters] … I still don’t know, really, who he is. I’m getting who he is from you guys … and I take that with a grain of salt. I don’t know who Stew Peters is — I don’t care to know who Stew Peters is.” 

If he takes what KTAR tells him with a grain of salt, why would he reach out to us to tell his side of the story?

Methinks it was part of his punishment. 

As far as his official punishment goes, I have to give Kern credit: he’s taking it without too much complaint. He told KTAR News that he actually supports state Senate President Warren Peterson’s decision to ban him from further use of Senate broadcast equipment (which he used to appear on Peters’ podcast).

“We [he and Peterson] talked about it and, ya know, I basically told him, ‘that’s fine.’ I don’t have a problem with it.” 

Why should he? He doesn’t need an official media room — Kern can just hop on Zoom from his house or his phone. Or he can use whatever podcasting platform the Hitler lovers use.

There’s one more thing Kern’s getting criticized for: His interview with Peters revolved around an April 30 “drag story hour” event that took place in the state House (an event which zero children  attended) and Kern didn’t defend fellow his Republican Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma after Peters smeared him by rhetorically asking: “Is Ben Toma a pedophile? Is he a groomer? He’s either incompetent or he is with the pedophiles.”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Kern didn’t defend Toma — they’re running against each other in the CD8 Republican primary and these days, the Arizona GOP seems to constantly shoot itself in the face to spite its nose.

Or… maybe Kern didn’t defend Toma from insinuations of pedophilia because he thinks Stew Peters (“Mr. Hitler’s A Hero”) is a great judge of character…?

Either way, Mike Noble of Noble Predictive Insights says Kern is hurting the Republican brand — while also acknowledging that has become par for the course: “The GOP, their biggest enemy, the last five years, has been themselves.”

As long as this has kept up, I have to wonder if Ridiculousness And Infighting hasn’t become the Republican brand.

Jim Sharpe

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Is Kern’s kind of kooky becoming the new GOP brand?