Conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who once called a Supreme Court justice a "goat fucking child molester" and has been criticized by coworkers for sexist and incendiary remarks, is trying to become a Republican kingmaker. Many Republicans are happily promoting his endorsements, paying his site for advertising, and attending his events.
On August 7-9, Republicans such as Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, and RNC chair Reince Priebus will attend Erickson's 2014 RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. Previous speakers at the annual event have included Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Erickson is a Fox News contributor and the editor-in-chief of RedState.com, where he, according to his biography, writes "candidly about and challenge the Republican establishment as well as rally conservatives to push their agenda at both the federal and state level." He believes that "conservatives must unite to clean up the Republican Party. If they don't, voters will keep rejecting Republican pseudo-socialists in favor of authentic socialists." His philosophy has led to fights with establishment Republican pundits like Karl Rove and GOP apparatuses like the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
That Erickson would want the Republican Party to tack even further to the right isn't surprising. This is the same pundit that cites Jesus to deny the threat of climate change, endorses homophobia, and believes Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme" and death panels are real.
But his commentary goes beyond extreme conservative positions and into the realm of remarks that even his own colleagues find "boorish and obnoxious."
Erickson called then-retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester," Michelle Obama a "Marxist harpy wife," and wondered of Washington state: "At what point do the people ... march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?" Comments like that drew a rebuke from then-CNN colleague turned current Fox News colleague Howard Kurtz in 2010.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren earlier this year called Erickson a "creep" who is "boorish and obnoxious" and "has [a] pattern of being disrespectful to women" after he smeared Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis as "Abortion Barbie." Van Susteren added that the "jerk" "has never been on TV with me." Fox News host Megyn Kelly sharply criticized Erickson over his sexist assertion that "when you look at biology" the "male typically is the dominant role."
Despite that history, numerous Republican politicians have touted Erickson's endorsements in their election fights. Below are thirteen examples of Republicans running for federal office this year who have proudly accepted Erickson's help:
- Alabama congressional candidate Chad Mathis touts Erickson's endorsement on his website.
- Georgia congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk writes of Erickson, "Proud to have his support!" Erickson headlined a fundraiser for Loudermilk.
- Georgia Senate candidate Karen Handel released a radio ad featuring Erickson and saying she was "honored" to be endorsed by him. Erickson also recorded a robocall for Handel.
- Georgia Senate candidate Rep. Jack Kingston ran a radio ad featuring Erickson.
- Georgia House candidate Jody Hice held a fundraiser featuring Erickson.
- Kansas Senate candidate Milton Wolf touts Erickson's endorsement on his website.
- Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin touted Erickson's endorsement on his website.
- Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse touts Erickson's endorsement on his website.
- New Jersey congressional candidate Steve Lonegan touts Erickson's endorsement on his website, adding: "Ask [sic] Erickson said, Steve can win, but he is going to need your help. Can you pitch in as little as $5 to send a real conservative to Washington, DC?"
- North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon writes on a fundraising page that he's supported by Erickson.
- Oklahoma Senate candidate T.W. Shannon touted Erickson's endorsement on his website.
- South Carolina Senate candidate Det Bowers touted Erickson's endorsement on his website.
- Texas congressional candidate John Ratcliffe promotes Erickson's endorsement on his website.
Milton Wolf, who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, bought advertising on Erickson's RedState email list to promote a March fundraising "money bomb." Wolf's sponsored email included a message from Erickson, who wrote: "Please take a look at the email below from Dr. Wolf, and consider supporting his cause. With your help, we can win in Kansas!"
Other Republicans who have rented Erickson's email list include Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Steve Stockman, Ken Cuccinelli and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. RedState.com's advertising page states: "Across the country, we find grassroots candidates and work hard to get them elected."
In April, Erickson served as the moderator for a Republican Iowa Senate primary debate hosted by a conservative group. Democrats criticized Erickson's selection, citing his "intolerant" and "hateful" views.
Ratcliffe and Sasse, who were backed by national groups, won their Republican primaries, and several Erickson-backed candidates in the recent Georgia Republican primary were successful. But while many Republican politicians are happy to have his support, Erickson's endorsement is no guarantee of success for candidates who often enter races as underdogs. Bowers, Brannon, Handel, Kingston, Lonegan, Mathis, Shannon, and Wolf lost their primaries, and Erickson bailed on the sinking candidacy of Matt Bevin as polls closed.