A neo-Nazi with prior felony convictions will be allowed to remain on the GOP ballot in North Carolina, the State Board of Elections ruled unanimously this week.
Joseph Gibson III is running for the second time for a seat in North Carolina’s House of Representatives in District 65, which encompasses Rockingham County and shares a border with Virginia.
Gibson’s neo-Nazi ties were exposed by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism in 2022, after he’d lost the GOP primary against the incumbent candidate but still managed to garner 20% of the vote. Specifically, ADL researchers said that Gibson had a relationship to the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a decades-old neo-Nazi organization. According to the ADL, Gibson had promoted one of their rallies and simulcasted his podcast on NSM’s networks.
GOP officials in Rockingham County mounted a challenge to Gibson’s candidacy, citing not his alleged views but his eligibility to vote based on his felony status. Earlier this month, the Rockingham Board of Elections voted unanimously to disqualify Gibson from running. He appealed to the State Board of Elections, which determined Tuesday that according to state law, Gibson’s citizenship rights had been restored, given that his prison term ended over a decade ago.
Gibson did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment, but in a recent interview with WRAL he denied that he had links to NSM and said he’d never been to one of their rallies.
His Gab profile tells a different story. He appears to have deleted the most explicit neo-Nazi posts that were screenshotted and published by the ADL two years ago. But plenty others remain pointing to his white supremacist and neo-Nazi beliefs.
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In one post from 2021, he uses a racial slur against Black people in a tirade against an interracial family. In several comments, he agrees with posts by a man who identifies himself as a former member of KKK, NSM, and a now-defunct “supreme white alliance.” Gibson also shared a link to NSM’s manifesto, and in one post from 2022, complained about an alleged incident where he says an “angry evil jew attacks white protesters.” He also shared a white supremacist propaganda video called “Aryan: Our Purpose.”
According to The Assembly, a media outlet that covers North Carolina politics, Gibson had previously told Rockingham County board that he’d moved to the state in 2005 while he was still on parole, and was released from supervision around 2008.
Federal court records show that in 2002, Gibson filed a federal lawsuit against prison officials in Connecticut, claiming that they coerced him to infiltrate a prison gang affiliated with the Latin Kings and act as an informant. Gibson alleged that one of the gang members slashed his throat with a razor, and that prison officials had failed to protect him from the attack.
Earlier this month, Democrat members of the Rockingham Elections Board had voted to keep Gibson on the ballot, while Republicans wanted to block his candidacy.
Stephen Wiley, the caucus director for the North Carolina House Republicans, who has been a vocal opponent to Gibson’s candidacy, claimed Democrats wanted to keep him in the race so they could campaign on the idea that GOP voters were in bed with nazis.
“Democrats decided they wanted a Nazi in the Republican primary, so that if even one person votes for him they can say ‘Look, Republicans support Nazis,’” Wiley told WRAL.
The vote by North Carolina’s Board of Elections now clears Gibson to compete in the GOP primary against state Rep. Reece Pyrtle.
As The Assembly noted, this is not the first time in recent years that North Carolina’s GOP has been embarrassed by a neo-Nazi on the ballot. In 1980, Harold Covington—an open nazi and leader of the National Socialist Party of America— ran for state attorney general. Though he didn’t win, he garnered 43% of the vote and beat the GOP’s establishment candidate in 45 out of the state’s 100 counties.