LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — The son and daughter of a Missouri House candidate are urging people not to vote for him because he regularly espouses racial and homophobic views and dislikes Jews and Muslims.
Steve West, 64, gained attention after winning the August Republican primary for a northwest Missouri House seat when word spread about views he frequently expressed on a radio show.
“I can’t imagine him being in any level of government,” his daughter, Emily West, told The Kansas City Star on Monday.
On Tuesday, her brother, Andy West, told the newspaper his father is “a fanatic” who must be stopped.
“If he gets elected, it would legitimize him,” Andy West said. “Then he would become a state official, and he’s saying that Jews shouldn’t even have civil rights.”
The West children became more concerned when they recently drove through the Clay County district Steve West would represent and saw several yard signs supporting him.
Anti-Semitism is gaining national attention after the shooting deaths of 11 Jewish people Saturday at a synagogue in Pittsburgh by a gunman who allegedly said “I just want to kill Jews.”
Steve West, who denies that he is anti-Semitic, denounced the shootings Monday, and said some of his comments have been taken out of context.
“I would never condone any violence against any people because of a specific race or religion or anything else,” he said.
Andrew West doubted his father would commit violence but said he has the same objective as the Pittsburgh shooter, which is “the removal of Jews from America.”
In his Oct. 15 radio show, called “The Hard Truth with Jack Justice,” West complained about the relationship between the United States and Israel.
“They have been running this assault on America,” he said. “They have been giving us gay marriage, pornography, abortion, everything that’s anti-Christian . This is what they do. This is how they corrupt a Christian nation, because they are an anti-Christ people.”
Emily West said her father’s views have caused a rift between him and his children. She has not spoken to him since he rejected her suggestion that he drop out of the race after he won in August.
West blames his ex-wife for his children’s rejection.
“I had a toxic divorce from my ex-wife and she’s poisoned my kids, and I have to live with that,” he said.
Rep. Jon Carpenter, the Democratic incumbent running against West, said Monday many people supporting West may not know about his views.
“I’m deeply disturbed by his candidacy,” he said, “and it’s my hope that the voters of the 15th District overwhelmingly reject that kind of bigotry on election day.”
After West won in August, the Missouri Republican Party issued a statement saying his “abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere. We wholeheartedly condemn his comments.”
Karen Aroesty, regional director of ADL Heartland, said those who espouse hateful rhetoric bear some responsibility when violence erupts. She said voters will have to decide if someone with West’s views belongs in the state Legislature.
“I would question how (people with such views) make public policy for an entire constituency,” she said. “But people are going to have to make that choice. I can’t make that choice for them.”