Mountain state race

In West Virginia, Rep. Carol Miller faces primary challenge from candidate who entertained antisemitic conspiracy theories

Former West Virginia Del. Derrick Evans, convicted for his involvement in Jan. 6, said ‘it’s a good question to ask right now’ whether Jews stole the 2020 election

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Will Price, West Virginia Legislative Photography via AP

Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday, January 30, 2024/

In Tuesday’s West Virginia Republican primary, Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) is fending off a challenge from former West Virginia state Del. Derrick Evans, who was convicted for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and has entertained antisemitic conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

Evans appeared in a February interview with Stew Peters, a far-right personality who has engaged in Holocaust denial and who the Anti-Defamation League describes as an “antisemitic conspiracy theorist.” In that interview Evans, when asked whether “Jews stole the election,” responded, “it’s a good question to ask right now.”

When Peters asked if it’s “over the line to draw the conclusion that Israel had a whole lot to do with Jan. 6,” Evans responded, “No, it’s not.”

Evans, who live-streamed himself pushing into the Capitol building, pleaded guilty to obstructing law enforcement and federal business, sentenced to three months in prison and 36 months of supervised release, which is ongoing.

Miller, the chair of the Main Street Caucus — a group that describes its members as “pragmatic conservatives” — is being backed in the primary by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which rarely involves itself in contested GOP primaries, highlighting the degree of concern over Evans’ candidacy. The group pointed to Evans’ exchange with Peters in its endorsement of Miller.

In a statement, RJC chair Norm Coleman and CEO Matt Brooks described Evans as a “convicted felon and fringe extremist.” 

“For such a person to become a Congressman would be an embarrassment for Republicans nation-wide,” the statement reads. “But it’s West Virginians who would be hurt the most if a dependable conservative like Carol Miller were to be replaced by a criminal provocateur.”

The RJC praised Miller as a “reliable supporter of pro-Israel measures” who “understands that America must continue to lead in a dangerous world” and as a “fierce advocate for her West Virginia constituents and a strong ally to the Jewish community.”

Local observers say that Miller is favored in the primary, but Evans could have a shot at an upset.

Evans is aiming to outflank Miller on the right in ruby-red West Virginia — labeling the incumbent a “commie RINO [Republican in Name Only]” and accusing her of not sufficiently backing former President Donald Trump. The candidate is touting his role in the Jan. 6 riot as a selling point.

Miller is likewise trying to label Evans as insufficiently conservative, describing him in a recent ad as a “Democrat fraud” linked to pro-transgender groups and claiming he supports defunding the police and wants to cut military salaries.

Evans has been endorsed by Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), who is also being opposed by the RJC after voting against Israel aid; retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s short-lived first national security advisor, who has increasingly embraced fringe far-right conspiracy theories and activists; and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

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