GOP support grows for House candidate with disputed military background

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JR Majewski, a Trump acolyte from Ohio who House Republicans abandoned when he first ran for Congress in the 2022 midterm elections after discrepancies arose in his military record, has returned as candidate, and with some prominent names in the Republican Party behind him.

Majewski, an Air Force veteran, earned endorsements Monday from Sen. JD Vance of Ohio and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in his Republican primary as he seeks to challenge Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur for the second time in office. Ninth District.

The show of support stood in stark contrast to the National Republican Congressional Committee's cancellation of its ads for Majewski during the final six weeks of her 2022 race, which she lost by 13 percentage points to Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in office. position in the history of Congress.

The committee pulled the plug after The Associated Press reported that the Air Force had no record of Majewski, 44, serving in Afghanistan, which he continues to claim it did, and drew attention to a series of inconsistencies about his record. military. Majewski has vehemently denied the report.

The endorsements came just days after the release of a secret recording of Craig Riedel, a rival Republican candidate and former state lawmaker, telling a Republican donor that he would not support former President Donald J. Trump and did not want his endorsement. Was obtained by Charlie Kirkfounder of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump grassroots group.

Not long after, Riedel announced that he was endorsing Trump. But the damage appeared to be done, and at least one prominent Republican in Ohio (Representative Max Miller, a former Trump adviser) said he no longer supported Riedel, who lost to Majewski in the 2022 Republican primary.

Riedel accused one of Majewski's leading MAGA boosters, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, of setting him up.

“Matt Gaetz and a social media trickster pulled a stunt yesterday to try to convince President Trump to get involved in my Congressional primary in favor of proven loser JR Majewski,” Riedel wrote on X.

Trump, who endorsed Majewski in 2022, announced it on Saturday while the two attended a New York Young Republican Club gala, blaming the “deep state” for undermining Majewski during his last campaign.

“We stood by them,” Trump said, adding: “They played dirty pool, but you'll get a second chance, right?”

Erica Knight, Majewski's spokeswoman, said in a text message that she hoped to receive Trump's endorsement again.

A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Riedel has received endorsements from Republicans considered more traditional, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, before he was deposed as House speaker, and Americans for Prosperity Action, a political network founded by billionaire industrial brothers Charles and David Koch. The group has spent nearly $250,000 on Riedel's behalf this election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Riedel did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to the New York Times on Tuesday, Gaetz denied orchestrating the secret recording.

“Craig Riedel criticized Trump when he thought he would help him get a New Yorker to give him money,” he said. “We already have enough people willing to say and do anything for campaign money in Congress. Craig Riedel explained himself in his own words. I had nothing to do with it, although I wish I had.”

Aidan Johnson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a statement called the Republican primary an “ugly and costly race to the bottom.”

Steve Lankenau, former mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, is also running in the Republican primary.

While Majewski has frequently touted himself as a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Air Force records obtained by The Times show he was deployed for six months in 2002 in Qatar, which is now your home. to the largest US air base in the Middle East.

According to military records, the Air Force demoted Mr. Majewski in September 2001 for drunk driving at Kadena Air Base in Japan, contradicting his earlier account that he was unable to re-enlist in the Air Force after his first four years. due to a “fight”. .”

Inconsistencies in Majewski's public accounts of his military service sparked renewed scrutiny during the last election cycle, when he was already facing questions about his presence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and his sympathies for the QAnon conspiracy movement.

In August 2023, more than nine months after Mr. Majewski's defeat, the Army updated its records to reflect that he had received a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for his service, an honor created in 2003 for members of the Air Force who deployed overseas after the 9/11 attacks.

But Afghanistan is just one of several dozen countries, including Qatar, that count toward eligibility. That hasn't stopped Majewski and his allies, including Trump, from claiming that he was “totally exonerated.”



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