Upfront: ‘Little’ Headache

California GOP grapples with top-polling neo-Nazi

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The Republican party hasn’t pushed out a favored candidate in what’s sure to be a losing race for  Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, and has struggled to find candidates to run at all this year.

It’s been a couple of wild weeks for the California State Republican Party now that it’s been revealed that one of the highest polling Republicans in the state is a neo-Nazi who denies that the Holocaust happened.

The party has been dealing with fallout from a recent statewide poll, which revealed that self-described “counter-Semite” Patrick Little was leading all challengers, Democrat and Republican, in the race for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat. Feinstein is Jewish.

The state GOP’s Little headache piled on to a set of grim statistics that keep mounting for a party whose support is cratering in the state since Donald Trump’s election as president. Only about 25 percent of registered voters in the state are Republicans, and the last time the party took a statewide race was in 2006, when immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger took the governor’s seat race.

This year, immigration hard-liners in the southern part of the state have rallied around their antipathy for the state’s sanctuary law, while more moderate Republicans helplessly fret over Latinos’ wholesale abandonment of Republicanism in the Trump era.

Enter Patrick Little. He tried to attend the state GOP spring convention in San Diego over the weekend. It didn’t go well, he said in a brief interview with our sister publication, the Bohemian. Little was booted from the event when he attempted to register at the VIP table, despite his declaration to organizers, he notes, that he’s the top-polling Republican in the state. As a parting shot, he stomped on an Israeli flag as he departed the convention.

Little has taken a square aim at the powerful lobbying organization American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in his campaign. The organization did not respond to the Bohemian‘s requests for comment.

In scanning leading state newspapers in the lead-up to the convention last weekend, a consensus view emerged in the various editorials and analyses which indicated that among California’s political and media class, ignoring Little seems to be the best strategy to make him go away.

News stories about the convention barely mentioned Little, if they mentioned him at all, and focused on the party’s challenging work ahead in a state in which the Democratic supermajority has dug in as the loyal opposition in the aftermath of Trump’s minority-vote victory in 2016.

The state GOP has tried to gain traction with California voters this year with its initiative to repeal a new state gas tax—but it’s really hard to ignore the fact that the same party is fielding a candidate for U.S. Senate who doesn’t believe there were gas chambers at Auschwitz. Can Little be so easily dismissed? It’s a hard row to hoe for the GOP. The party wants voters to believe that Gov. Jerry Brown has bankrupted the state, even as last week California leapt over Great Britain to become the world’s fifth largest economy.

The Bohemian made numerous attempts to contact the state Republican Party to discuss the Little phenomenon, to no avail. They clearly want him to go away. The takeaway from state party leaders is that they are aghast that an unapologetic anti-Semite could lay claim to the mantle of the state GOP’s messaging with his 18 percent showing in the polls.

Yet this is the same state GOP which supported a candidate for president in 2016 who refused to disavow an endorsement from American Nazi David Duke, who said there are “good people” among violent white supremacists, and whose “America First” platform is a throwback to  anti-Semitic American isolationism prior to WWII, though wrapped in a proverbial “dog whistle”—coded language that appeals to a specific constituency while not rattling the mainstream.

There’s no dog-whistling in Little’s campaign, where he calls for the deportation of Jews, among other “counter-Semitic” policy proposals.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League recently reported that incidences of anti-Semitic violence have spiked since Trump’s election, including in California. The organization conducted a workshop on combating anti-Semitism recently in Silicon Valley.

Trump visited the state in March. At that time, Kurt Bardella (a Republican messaging strategist and former staffer to retiring California Congressman Darrell Issa) wrote on CNN’s opinion page online that “the reality is Trump’s brand of xenophobia is toxic to what little is left of the Republican Party in California. . . . Instead of evolving with the changing demographics, Republicans in California have continued to embrace the fringe policies and rhetoric of the most extreme edges of the GOP.”

Bardella did not respond to the Bohemian‘s requests for an interview for this story.

In the end, the state Republican Party did not endorse anyone at its weekend convention to run against Feinstein, who is both a deeply unpopular and unmovable force in California Democratic politics. Her would-be challenger from the left, state Sen. Kevin de León, crawled in at a meager 8 percent support in that same poll which found Little at 18 percent. The growing irrelevancy of the Golden State Republicans appears to have provided political space for a candidate such as Little to emerge, especially given that the fix is in on Feinstein’s re-election. The big promised news going into the state GOP convention was over whether the party would endorse John Cox or Travis Allen in the governor’s race. It ended up endorsing neither man.  

Into this political vacuum enters Patrick Little. So who is he? The former Marine has filed campaign certification paperwork with the California Secretary of State that lists his address as an apartment located in a student housing complex owned by UC Berkeley. But he’s not a student there and has never been. Little confirms this in a phone interview and says, “That’s my campaign address.”

The address under file with the Secretary of State is in the city of Albany, which is just north of Berkeley and where the university owns a sprawling apartment complex with various amenities, called University Village. The Pacific Sun is not printing the address given that, according to UC Berkeley, the person at the address has every right under university policy to allow Little to use the location as his campaign address.

But it does raise a question about Little’s connection to the university, the site of numerous protests and tense stand-offs between Trump supporters and anti-fascist activists over the past couple of years. A university spokesperson says no person named Patrick Little is currently enrolled at Berkeley, nor has anyone ever been enrolled at the university who has that name. The spokesperson could not identify the person who lives at the Berkeley-owned apartment associated with Little’s campaign. “We didn’t find any name matching that name either now or in the past,” says spokeswoman Janet Gilmore, who added, “I can’t talk about who may or may not live there because of state privacy laws.”

Little’s Twitter account says that he lives in Albany. He reported online that he was thrown off the social media site on April 29 over his denial of the Holocaust, and wrote that “Hitler saved more [J]ewish lives than any man in history.”

His campaign slogan is: “Liberate the U.S. from the Jewish Oligarchy.”

Newsweek dug into a poll commissioned by KPIX 5. SurveyUSA that found Little second behind Feinstein and reported on Little’s praise for Adolf Hitler and his call for Jews to be deported from the United States. KPIX, the San Francisco CBS affiliate, blew right past the part of the poll which identified Little’s surprise showing and instead gushed about how the poll indicated that voters were ramped up for an exciting campaign season.  

If the polling numbers hold and are reflected in the primary vote on June 5, Little would face Feinstein in the general election in November. The next leading Republican candidate running against Feinstein is Rocky De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman and founder of the Delta Party who is also running for Rick Scott’s Senate seat this year in Florida. Fuente ran for president as a Democrat and says he’ll run again in 2020 in the Democratic primary.

Little also beat out Erin Cruz in the KPIX poll, a candidate who might charitably be said to occupy the “mainstream” Trump position in this race. Cruz has adopted the #Americafirst hashtag as her own and riffs off the reality-show president’s slogan when she says her aim is to Make California Golden Again. Her campaign materials indicate that she plans to do this by deporting undocumented immigrants. Cruz did not follow through on a Bohemian interview scheduled by her staff for Monday.

Late last week, I contacted Little at the email address he posts on his campaign website and he responded with an offer to do a live-stream interview. That’s not an option, I responded, but let’s talk. I sent him several questions about his campaign and asked if he could provide some further context about his support among Asian-Americans.

Late Friday night, Little sent a series of quick emails from the road, saying he was headed to San Diego and the GOP convention, from whence he would be booted. Early this week, he called to set up an interview for a future date, he said, given that he had lots of other media requests to sift through.

It’s not known what Little’s actual connection to the Berkeley address is, beyond that he listed it on a state form as his address and confirms that it’s where his campaign is located. There’s nothing illegal about that. A spokesman at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) says that candidates for higher office don’t have to reveal their home addresses, and only need to provide a mailing address to the FEC.

“The FEC has no jurisdiction over any residency requirements (i.e., a candidate running from a particular state or congressional district within a state),” says Myles Martin, communications specialist at the commission. “The Statement of Candidacy that a candidate files with the [FEC] requires that a candidate provide a ‘mailing address,’ but this need not be their actual residence address.”

Little has not filed a Statement of Candidacy, or any other disclosure reports with the FEC, says Martin. He may not need to. The FEC only requires financial disclosures from candidates who have eclipsed a $5,000 threshold in contributions, or expenditures related to the campaign.

Little told a Yahoo interviewer that he’s cautioned supporters to not contribute any money to his campaign, given that those contributions, and who made them, could ultimately be subject to public scrutiny. He also noted that he’s gotten some volunteers to help out with the campaign.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been tracking Little’s campaign, and in 2014 released a report on anti-Semitism around the world, which, surprisingly, found that there’s quite a bit of anti-Semitic sentiment among various Asian populations. For example, the survey found that some 53 percent of South Koreans answered “probably true” to a majority of anti-Semitic stereotypes, says the ADL’s Joanna Mendelson, the league’s senior investigative researcher and director of special projects.

She says of Little, “He is not nuanced in his anti-Semitism, and outright condemns any ‘dog whistle’ references [to Jews] in favor of his hate.”

The Maine native’s blatant anti-Semitism is on display on his campaign platform. Among other promises, he says he’ll “introduce a bill to the U.S. Senate making it illegal to raise funds for any foundation related to the perpetuating of propaganda related to a ‘holocaust,’ formally making US’s stance on the holocaust to be that it is a Jewish war atrocity propaganda hoax that never happened.”

He also calls for Twitter, Google and Facebook to be nationalized. Little’s least controversial campaign pledge is his plan to crash asteroids into the Mars atmosphere to make it more amenable to future humans who may travel there. That’s how far out things have become for the California Republican Party.

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