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NC GOP Chair Remains Silent on Candidate’s Nazi Ties

Alex Constantine - March 4, 2024

BY KYLE INGRAM - Raleigh News & Observer, March 1, 2024

RALEIGH - In 2018, then-North Carolina Republican Party Chair Robin Hayes disavowed a Republican candidate with a history of white supremacist and antisemitic statements. This year, however, the state GOP, led by Chair Michael Whatley, has remained silent on a candidate with ties to a neo-Nazi organization.

Joseph Gibson III, a Rockingham County podcaster with past felony convictions, is running for a state House seat.

Some Republicans in positions of leadership tried to stop Gibson from getting on the ballot. But in January, the State Board of Elections cleared Gibson to run in House District 65 against Rep. Reece Pyrtle. After Gibson was approved to be on the ballot,

Whatley — who is now running to be chair of the Republican National Committee with former President Donald Trump’s support — did not publicly condemn his candidacy. Whatley and the state GOP have not responded to requests for comment after The News & Observer attempted to reach them over three days by phone, email and text message.

Here’s what we know about Gibson’s ties to an extremist group and who has spoken out against his campaign.


▪ The Anti-Defamation League found that Gibson had ties to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and referred to him as a “white supremacist and anti-government extremist.” The ADL’s report said Gibson participated in livestream events hosted by the NSM and in one instance messaged the channel saying “88,” a dog whistle used by white supremacists to mean “Heil Hitler.”

▪ House GOP caucus director Stephen Wiley raised the alarm after finding Gibson’s criminal history and referred to him as a “Nazi” on X, formerly Twitter. ▪ Diane Parnell, chair of the Rockingham County GOP, filed an official challenge to Gibson’s candidacy in December over his criminal record. But the elections board unanimously agreed that his citizenship rights had been restored, finding that he had completed his probation in 2008 for crimes committed in Connecticut.

▪ On Jan. 17, the day after Gibson was approved to be on the ballot, Wiley joined powerful House budget chair Rep. Jason Saine on his radio show to discuss Gibson’s candidacy.

▪ After Gibson was approved to be on the ballot, the North Carolina Democratic Jewish Caucus began emailing, calling and, on Feb. 1, making pleas on social media to the NCGOP and to Republican leaders in the legislature, asking them to condemn Gibson and refuse to seat him if he wins.


In a email to The N&O, Gibson denied being a Nazi and described the Jewish Caucus’ statement about his candidacy as “unfair and anti-constitutional, libel, slander and political character assassination.” His email also included vague references to antisemitic conspiracy theories and purported discrimination against “white Christian males.”


The N&O requested comment on Feb. 23 from House Speaker Tim Moore, who is running for Congress. In response, his spokesperson said Moore did not support the candidate. “The Speaker is supportive of Rep. Pyrtle in his reelection campaign,” L

uke Ball, a spokesperson for Moore’s campaign, said in an email to The N&O. “Based on Mr. Gibson’s past behavior, we do not think he is fit for public office, and we are confident that the voters in Rockingham County will resolve this matter at the voting booth.” After Moore’s campaign told The N&O he would not support Gibson, Conner Taylor, a vice president of the Democratic Jewish Caucus, said he was glad leadership had said something, but criticized Moore for not sharing his statement on social media platforms or his website.

As for state party leaders, Taylor said they responded with “radio silence.” Taylor noted that the Republican front-runner for governor has also made antisemitic remarks. In a Facebook post, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson once said the Marvel movie “Black Panther” was “created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by (a) satanic Marxist.

How can this trash, that was only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets, invoke any pride?” The N&O previously reported. In an October press conference, in which Robinson issued a proclamation declaring solidarity with Israel after the Oct. 7 attack, he said he was not antisemitic.

“I apologize for the word — not necessarily for the content, but we apologize for the wording,” Robinson said. “And we have spoken to several Jewish groups who completely understand what our sentiments were. And we have full confidence in the people of North Carolina understanding Mark Robinson is definitely not antisemitic.”


After Wiley and Parnell raised the alarm about Gibson’s criminal history and extremist connections, a challenge to his candidacy was heard by the Rockingham County Board of Elections. The board initially voted to remove Gibson from the ballot, but they later reversed that decision, finding that he had completed his probation for crimes committed in Connecticut. The State Board agreed on appeal.

Gibson has also faced legal trouble in North Carolina. In 2021, he was twice found guilty of violating domestic violence protection orders, a misdemeanor. This is the second time Gibson has run for the state House, after losing to Pyrtle in 2022.

There is no Democrat running in HD 65, so whoever wins the primary will be elected to the legislature. NC Reality Check is an N&O series holding those in power accountable and shining a light on public issues that affect the Triangle or North Carolina.

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