GOP candidate apologizes after antisemitic post surfaces

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A GOP candidate for the Washington Legislature has acknowledged that a post he put on social media in 2020 is antisemitic.

Dan Johnson of Laurel, who is running to represent part of northwest Washington in the House, posted a meme on Facebook that showed a yellow Star of David with the words, “A new badge has been created which will allow you to go back to work, to travel in your state, to fly, catch a train or bus, and to buy and sell,” The Bellingham Herald reported.

“I inappropriately compared pandemic mandates to the Nazis’ treatment of Jewish people,” Johnson wrote on his campaign Facebook page Tuesday, adding that at the time he was deeply frustrated by the governor’s mandates. “Looking back the post trivialized the darkest time in human history and that doesn’t reflect my values.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had ordered business closures among other measures meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Johnson posted on Facebook Tuesday after a Sunday story in The Bellingham Herald examined his social media going back almost 10 years. Much of his online presence was publicly available but has since been removed.

Johnson did not respond to the newspaper’s questions about the posts, which the newspaper also said included sexist memes, COVID-19 misinformation, and apparent support for anti-government militants as well as the violent overthrow of elected officials.

His statement Tuesday said, “if I have ever said something that offended another (and I’m sure I have), or caused anyone pain, I am sorry.”

Several of his Facebook posts have been flagged by the social media company as false, partly false, or misleading, the newspaper said.

Johnson placed second in the Aug. 2 primary and is facing Democrat Joe Timmons of Bellingham in the Nov. 8 general election. Timmons has told the newspaper Johnson’s memes and recordings were offensive.

“I believe candidates and elected officials should lead by example and that voters have a right to know the true values and opinions of those they are electing to represent them,” Timmons said previously.