Republican candidate Joe Kent, who is running in Washington’s 3rd congressional district, was swarmed by thousands of accounts on Twitter following his recent attack against a rising star on the political right.
“My opponents are again spreading lies about me. I strongly condemn Nick Fuentes’s politics, especially in regards to our ally Israel,” Kent Tweeted seemingly at Random Wednesday.
“I ignored his invitation to speak at his recent conference in Orlando, and I am not aware of nor do I accept any endorsement from him.”
Kent’s mention of a conference in Orlando was in reference to the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) which was started three years ago by Nick Fuentes. AFPAC was launched in 2020 in response to CPAC, which Fuentes and his followers say is not a legitimate representation of conservatism.
The third annual AFPAC was attended by over 1,200 mostly under-30 conservatives and has enjoyed an exponential growth rate. The conference is set to easily dwarf CPAC’s attendance within the next couple of years. The event was live-streamed to over 10,000 live-viewers, with hundreds of thousands tuning into the speeches following the event’s conclusion.
Last year the event was attended by several current and former government officials, and this year that number grew. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Wendy Rogers, (R-Ariz.) were among the many speakers at the latest event.
Lt Governor of Idaho, Janice McGeachin, and former Congressman Steve King also attended, alongside conservatives like Michelle Malkin, Gavin McGinnes, and Milo Yiannopoulos.
Kent’s tweet was seemingly in response to his female opponent, Heidi St. John, who repeated misinformation propagated by the media while demanding that Kent apologize and disavow Fuentes.
Kent hastily obeyed her.
The Left-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), as well as media outlets, often wrongly refer to Fuentes and his followers as a ‘white nationalist movement,’ while in reality, the group is mainly made of Christian Nationalists of many racial backgrounds.
The disavowal of Fuentes comes almost a year after Kent’s defense of Fuentes after the federal government froze his bank accounts and placed him on a no-fly-list for attending the January 6th protest where he remained outside of the capitol.
Fuentes says that he has spoken to Kent before over the phone and that his group has been helping Kent grow his social media accounts, especially on Gab. They were surprised that Kent has decided to turn on Fuentes.
Many of Fuentes’ supporters say that for over a year Kent has remained deliberately adjacent to their movement welcoming boosts from Fuentes, who has a much larger following than Kent across social media platforms.
Other supporters say that Kent has been adopting their language and policies, using terms like ‘immigration moratorium’ and ‘America First,’ without actually truly backing those ideas or knowing what they mean.
In August of last year, Kent tweeted “Many are glad that their political rivals are targeted by the state & big tech, they hate Trump, @NickJFuentes & MAGA…We must fight for all speech & fight the confluence of gov & big tech”
Kent made sure to tag Nick, likely in hopes of soliciting a retweet.
Following Kent’s attack against Fuentes and his following, who call themselves the ‘Groypers,’ Kent’s account was swarmed online. The tweet in which he attacked Fuentes currently has over 1,000 replies and only 500 retweets.
Man of the replies were people upset with Kent.
“Not sure it’s a good idea to let a woman in 4th place in your race tell you how to run your campaign ngl,” said author for the National File Jack Hadfield.
“Not sure why you would throw Nick under the bus, I thought you were America First!,” declared another account.
“What is he being condemned for? Advocating America First and Christ is King? Sounds like a solid platform to me… then again common sense probably is why I’m not a politician,” another account replied.
Kent took the time to respond to some of them, at one point implying that focusing on Christianity instead of populism is a distraction and alienates people who ‘we need on our side.’
“I don’t want Fuentes’s endorsement due to his focus on race/religion, the fights he’s picking are counterproductive, this is not my message of inclusive populism,” Kent tweeted.
“The race/religion fight just alienates ppl we need on our side.”
Milo Yiannopoulos, who was one of the attendees at AFPAC, responded to Kent on Telegram criticizing Kent’s use of the term ‘inclusive populism.’
“Inclusive populism” is brainless and repulsive—and it matters why. If we are to turn away from sin, we must learn to discriminate. We have to know what’s good and what’s bad, and ruthlessly strike out the bad from our daily lives. Judicious discrimination applied fairly and often, is the foundation of pious, respectable moral behavior. Tolerance and inclusively light the way to Hell.”
Another speaker, Vincent James — who gave a fiery speech at the event — also responded on Telegram saying their movement will “never sacrifice core values in attempts to attract a ‘broader’ portion of the public.“
“This idea of ‘working-class populism’ requires you to cede moral ground on the Christian understanding of morality and God himself. It requires you to be ‘more liberal’ on things like the praise of homosexuality & gender identity curriculum in schools, as well as more open to gay marriage, and pornography. It also requires you to have more of a lax approach to immigration, and crime. We are conservatives and more importantly, we are Christians, not populists.”
The official Gab account, which is run by Gab founder Andrew Torba, was one of the responses to which Kent replied twice.