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Paul Nehlen (born May 9, 1969) is an American white supremacist[2][3][4][5], neo-Nazi[6][7][8][9][10] and political candidate[5][11][12] who ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Representative from Wisconsin's 1st congressional district in 2016 and 2018. He was unsuccessful during both attempts at running for the office, losing to incumbent Representative Paul Ryan in 2016[13] and Representative-elect Bryan Steil in 2018[14]. An April 2018 article from The Daily Beast declared that Nehlen was becoming one of the highest profile white nationalists in America.[11]

Paul Nehlen
Born (1969-05-09) May 9, 1969 (age 49)
ResidenceDelavan, Wisconsin
Alma materWidener University
University of Delaware (BA)
University of Phoenix (MBA)[1]
OccupationPolitician, Businessman
Known forRunning against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st congressional district
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Gabriela Lire
WebsiteCandidate website:


Early life

Nehlen was born in Ohio, and has lived in Delavan, Wisconsin since 2014.[15] His business career has included stints at Deltech Engineering / United Dominion Industries and SPX Corporation,[16] and he served until 2016 as the Senior VP of Operations at Neptune-Benson LLC. a subsidiary of Evoqua Water Technologies. He holds several patents related to filtering and manufacturing methods,[17] and registered in 2014 a consulting entity, Blue Skies Global LLC, which does not appear to have conducted any business to date.[18] Nehlen was a Midwest Region advisory board member of Operation Homefront until 2016, and is married to Gabriela Lira. They have no children of their own, but Nehlen has two grown sons from a prior marriage.[19]


Nehlen holds alt-right, white nationalist, and antisemitic views.[20][21][22][23][24][25] He has used white nationalist memes to spread his message. He was originally backed by Steve Bannon.[26][27][28] Nehlen endorsed Republican Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate special election.[29][27]

On December 14, 2017, Nehlen's campaign released a statement calling for a federal law banning large social media companies from censoring or restricting "lawful speech" on their platforms. Nehlen's proposed bill includes fines of $500,000 for each violation. Supporters of Nehlen have used the hashtag #ShallNotCensor online to show their support for this position. Limitations to "lawful speech" would include "No publishing any individual's nonpublic residential address, telephone number, or email address without their consent".[30] However, Nehlen's campaign has posted private phone and email addresses without their consent on the website and then tweeted a link to them.[31][32]

Nehlen frequently uses the slogan: "It's OK to be white."[27]

On Jews

On Twitter, he suggested Ari Cohn convert to Christianity to "fill a Jesus-shaped hole" inside of him.[27][33] Paul Nehlen said he was reading The Culture of Critique (1998) by Kevin B. MacDonald and described it as "outstanding so far".[34][35][36] He called John Cardillo and Kurt Schlichter "shekels-for-hire" and posted a tweet with the antisemitic catchphrase "The goyim know" (referencing a popular theory about an alleged Jewish conspiracy).[22] In a text message he sent to The Washington Post Nehlen claimed, "I reject being called a White Supremacist, because clearly Pro-White isn't White Supremacy unless Pro-Jewish is Jewish Supremacy."[37]

On killing of political opponents

Nehlen also posted on Twitter a picture of Paul Ryan and Randy Bryce being dropped out of a helicopter, a reference to death flights, a method of executing political opponents. Responses to this message included death flight memes of former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet (whose regime killed more than 100 people by this method)[38] and Pepe the Frog.[23]

Tweet about Meghan Markle

On February 9, 2018, in response to claims that prehistoric Britons probably had dark skin, Nehlen tweeted a picture of Prince Harry with a reconstruction of a prehistoric dark-skinned Briton superimposed over his biracial fiance Meghan Markle, with the words "Honey, does this tie make my face look pale?" Nehlen was subsequently suspended from Twitter, which Nehlen described as a violation of his free speech.[39][3]

On killing immigrants

In late February 2018, he was a guest on former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's radio show, and stated that Trump's proposed border wall should include automatic turrets. Nehlen stated that any Mexican immigrant who approaches the American border should "be treated as an enemy combatant. Man, woman or child."[40]

Opposition to Donald Trump

He is also a critic of the presidency of Donald Trump, calling him a "cuck" and a failure.[40]

Social media bans

In February 2018, after a series of racist and anti-Semitic tweets,[41][42] he was permanently suspended, or banned from Twitter.[42][43][44] The Republican Party of Wisconsin has cut off ties with Nehlen, saying that his "ideas have no place in the Republican Party".[45]

Alleged doxing of alt-right factions

In April 2018, Nelhen allegedly doxed alt-right people that he saw as too moderate, willing to compromise, or unwilling to take militant street action.[46] Gab, which is considered by some to be an alt-right version of Twitter, banned Nehlen for doxing a troll who went by the name Ricky Vaughn. After doxxing the troll, who gained notoriety by posting popular racist and antisemitic memes, Nehlen claimed that the troll's real name is Douglass Mackey.[47]

Political career

He received endorsements from Breitbart News and people such as Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin for his run in the 2016 Wisconsin's 1st congressional district primaries.[48] He was defeated, getting 16% of the votes versus Paul Ryan with 84% of the votes.[49] When he posted a ballot selfie on election day, the Town of Delavan police said he had committed election fraud, a Class I felony. The police said he deliberately delayed an investigation by doing a factory reset on the phone and erasing the SIM card. Assistant District Attorney Haley Johnson said the ballot selfie was "technically a violation" of law, but decided not to issue criminal charges, stating Nehlen had "ignorantly posted the image to draw attention to his candidacy," and not vote buying. Johnson wrote "It is unfortunate that Mr. Nehlen showed such little regard for a law enforcement investigation."[50]

Nehlen ran again in 2018 to replace Paul Ryan, this time with Nick Polce also in the race for the 2018 Republican primary.[51][52] He was backed by Steve Bannon up until the Roy Moore defeat, now being denounced by Breitbart.[26][27][28] On December 27, 2017, Bannon's adviser Arthur Schwartz said Nehlen is "dead to us" and "Bannon cut all ties with him and tossed him to the curb." Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak said: "We don't support him."[53][54] On December 27, Pollak tweeted that Breitbart had not covered Nehlen in months. However, as recently as December 18, he had been a featured guest on Curt Schilling's Breitbart radio show Whatever It Takes; Schilling unequivocally expressed his endorsement of Nehlen.[55] Callum Borchers of The Washington Post said "Breitbart's move is political calculus" because it "needs to align itself with politicians who can win to help regain the appearance of influence Moore's defeat damaged."[56]

On February 13, 2018, Wisconsin GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said, "Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party." Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said, "It looks to me like he's a racist bigot." Ryan's campaign spokesman Kevin Seifert said, "It has long been clear that Paul Nehlen holds bigoted views." Nehlen responded with, "I am a member of the Republican Party regardless of what their traitorous, spineless apparatchiks believe," adding his agenda should "be the centerpiece of the Republican Party."[45]

Electoral history

U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin's 1st district, Republican primary, 2016[57]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Paul Ryan 57,364 84.06
Republican Paul Nehlen 10,864 15.92
Scattering N/A 15 0.02
Total 68,243 100
U.S House of Representatives, Wisconsin's 1st district Republican primary, 2018[58]
Party Candidate[59] Votes %
Republican Bryan Steil 30,883 51.6
Republican Nick Polce 8,945 14.9
Republican Paul Nehlen 6,635 11.1
Republican Kevin Adam Steen 6,262 10.5
Republican Jeremy Ryan 6,221 10.4
Republican Brad Boivin 924 1.5
Total 59,870 100


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  59. ^ These are candidates who have announced the intention to run; nominating papers must be filed by June 1, 2018. The Republican primaries will be held on August 14, 2018, followed by the general election on November 6, 2018.

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