The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Stop the Steal’ rally participant with QAnon ties to face Kaptur in Ohio

A “Stop the Steal” flag in Dalton, Ga., Jan. 4, 2021. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The Republican nominee who will face Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) this fall in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District is an energy industry executive who has been associated with the false QAnon ideology, performed in a “Let’s Go Brandon” rap video and attended the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally in support of former president Donald Trump.

J.R. Majewski, who won Tuesday’s GOP primary with nearly 36 percent of the vote in a four-candidate race, has also gained notice for twice painting his entire 19,000-square-foot lawn with a banner in homage to Trump.

Majewski, 42, is the latest GOP political novice to defeat more establishment candidates in a closely-watched race. Last November, Republican Edward Durr Jr., a truck driver, defeated New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney in one of that year’s most stunning Democratic losses. In 2020, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) became the first open QAnon supporter to win a seat in Congress. Greene was later ejected from her House committees; she has since sought to distance herself from QAnon but has continued to espouse other extremist beliefs.

In winning the GOP nomination to face Kaptur, Majewski bested two state lawmakers — state Rep. Craig Riedel and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone — and Beth Deck, a program manager at the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.

According to his campaign website, Majewski is an Air Force veteran who works in the nuclear energy industry. His campaign ads and social media presence have made Trump a focal point, and he has been endorsed by Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has perpetuated the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

“Good morning America!” Majewski said in a tweet Wednesday morning. He included a photo of Trump grinning and sticking his tongue out.

Kaptur, 75, was first elected in 1982 and is the longest-serving female lawmaker in the House. Her district was previously considered a safe seat for Democrats, but it has become more conservative after the once-a-decade redistricting process.

In 2020, Majewski made headlines for painting the lawn outside his Ohio home into a massive red, white and blue banner reading, “TRUMP 2020 — KEEP AMERICA … GREAT!” Majewski explained that he wanted to voice support for Trump’s handling of military affairs and asked prominent Ohio Republicans on Twitter to “Please help me get this to @realDonaldTrump.”

Last year, Majewski painted a second banner on his lawn, this one a giant portrait of Trump’s face.

Soon after he painted the first banner in 2020, Majewski was interviewed by Fox News Channel about it and wore a QAnon T-shirt during the appearance. He has also frequently associated with a prominent QAnon influencer and posted QAnon hashtags on his Instagram account, according to the media watchdog group Media Matters.

The QAnon ideology is a sprawling and violent web of false claims that played a role in inspiring the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. It claims, in part, that Trump is fighting a cabal of “deep state” saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex. The FBI has deemed the group a domestic terrorism threat.

In an interview with the Toledo Blade last year, Majewski acknowledged that he has sometimes associated with QAnon adherents and said, “If you want to believe that stuff, that’s fine.”

“I’m not going to bias myself to a bunch of people who want to write these things,” he told the newspaper.

He added that he donated his QAnon T-shirt to the Salvation Army after he was made aware of its meaning. “I’ve never read any QAnon drop — what they call the ‘Q drop,’ what they post on the website,” he told the Toledo Blade.

Majewski’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.

Majewski also acknowledged in the interview that he attended the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally but said he did not enter the Capitol building. He cited his concerns about the 2020 election as one of the reasons he decided to run for office — although he conceded that he did not have any proof that Trump won.

“I won’t sit here today and say that I have factual evidence that Joe Biden didn’t beat President Trump in a fair election. I can’t say that,” Majewski told the Toledo Blade. “But what I can say is there were enough things that caused concern or areas of question to the point that we should have been a little bit more intrusive from an auditing perspective.”

There is no evidence that widespread voter fraud took place in the 2020 presidential race.

Majewski recently appeared in a video for the rap song “Let’s Go Brandon,” named after an anti-Biden slogan that has become something of an unofficial Republican Party mantra.

“Not to poke fun at dementia, it’s a serious disease. But come on, man, squeeze your cheeks when you sneeze,” Majewski says in his verse of the song. “Joe is focused on ice cream while he’s crapping his pants. We want our dreams and our freedom. This is our last chance. This the hill we die on. This the line in the sand.”

Colby Itkowitz and Andrea Salcedo contributed to this report.