Paul Nehlen

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Paul Nehlen
Born (1969-05-09) May 9, 1969 (age 54)
EducationWidener University
University of Delaware (BA)
University of Phoenix (MBA)[1]
Occupation(s)Politician, businessman
Known forRunning against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st congressional district
Political partyRepublican
SpouseGabriela Lire
WebsiteCandidate website:

Paul Nehlen (born May 9, 1969) is a white supremacist[2][3][4][5][6] and former Congressional candidate from Wisconsin. During the 2016 and 2018 Republican Party primary elections in Wisconsin's 1st congressional district, he spouted various racist, white nationalist, nativist, protectionist, and antisemitic views. In 2016 he was defeated by incumbent Paul Ryan by 84 to 16 percent. The 2018 primary was won by Bryan Steil; Nehlen came third.[5][7][8]

An April 2018 article in The Daily Beast declared that Nehlen was becoming one of the highest profile white nationalists in the United States, but he has been unsuccessful politically, also losing the support of Breitbart News. His online accounts have been closed at Twitter and Gab because of his activities.[7] Since early 2018 he has gained notice only for controversial remarks and largely disappeared from coverage in 2019.

Early life[edit]

Nehlen was born in Ohio, and has lived in Delavan, Wisconsin since 2014.[9]

He became a successful businessman and had stints at Deltech Engineering/United Dominion Industries and SPX Corporation,[10] and he served until 2016 as the Senior VP of Operations at Neptune-Benson LLC, a subsidiary of Evoqua Water Technologies. He holds several patents related to filtering and manufacturing methods.[11] In 2014, he registered a consulting business, Blue Skies Global LLC. It does not appear to have conducted any business to date.[12] Nehlen was an advisory board member from the Midwest Region of Operation Homefront until 2016.


Nehlen has espoused alt-right, racist, white nationalist, nativist, protectionist, and antisemitic views.[13][14][15][16][17][18] He has used white nationalist memes to spread his message. Nehlen frequently uses the slogan: "It's OK to be white."[19] He was formerly backed by Steve Bannon.[19][20][21] Nehlen endorsed Republican Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate special election.[19][22] A few have said his views and actions show he has neo-Nazi ideology[23][24][25] and he has been endorsed by neo-Nazis.[26]

Lawful speech[edit]

On December 14, 2017, Nehlen's campaign for the 2018 congressional election released a statement calling for a federal law banning large social media companies from censoring or restricting 'lawful speech' (speech protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution) on their platforms. Nehlen's proposed bill includes fines of $500,000 for each violation. Supporters of Nehlen have used the hashtag #ShallNotCensor online to show their support for this position. Limitations to said speech would include "No publishing any individual's nonpublic residential address, telephone number, or email address without their consent".[27] However, Nehlen's campaign has posted private phone and email addresses without their consent on the website and then tweeted a link to them.[28][29]


On Twitter, he suggested Ari Cohn convert to Christianity to "fill a Jesus-shaped hole" inside of him.[19][30] Nehlen said he was reading The Culture of Critique (1998) by Kevin B. MacDonald and described it as "outstanding so far".[31][32][33] He called John Cardillo and Kurt Schlichter "shekels-for-hire" and posted a tweet with the antisemitic catchphrase "The goyim know" (referencing a theory about an alleged Jewish conspiracy and Gentiles being aware of said conspiracy).[15] In an attempt to provide a double standard, Nehlen sent a text message to The Washington Post, in which he stated: "I reject being called a White Supremacist, because clearly Pro-White isn't White Supremacy unless Pro-Jewish is Jewish Supremacy."[34]

In a discussion with neo-Nazi Patrick Little on an alt-right podcast, Nehlen formally endorsed genocide. He is quoted as saying he wouldn't be "opposed to somebody ... leadin’ a million Robert Bowers to the promised land."[35]

Political opponents[edit]

Nehlen once posted on Twitter a picture of Paul Ryan and Randy Bryce being dropped out of a helicopter, a reference to death flights, a method of executing political opponents used by South American autocratic governments during the late 20th century.[36][16]

Donald Trump[edit]

While running against incumbent Paul Ryan in the 2016 Republican primary for the seat representing Wisconsin's 1st congressional district, Nehlen was supportive of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, but was swamped by Ryan.[37][38] By 2018, however, he was criticizing Trump, describing him as a "cuck" and a failure.[39]

Meghan Markle[edit]

On February 9, 2018, Nehlen tweeted an image of Prince Harry with an offensive picture superimposed over the face of his American, biracial fiance Meghan Markle, with the words "Honey, does this tie make my face look pale?" Nehlen was subsequently suspended from Twitter. He objected to this as a violation of his free speech.[3][40]

Border wall and immigrants[edit]

In late February 2018, Nehlen was a guest on the radio show of David Duke, commenting to Duke that Trump's proposed border wall should include automatic turrets. Nehlen stated that any Mexican immigrant who approaches the American border should "be treated as an enemy combatant. Man, woman or child."[39]

Social media bans[edit]

In February 2018, after a series of racist and antisemitic tweets,[41][42] he was permanently suspended, or banned from Twitter.[42][43][44] The Republican Party of Wisconsin has cut off ties with Nehlen, saying that his "ideas have no place in the Republican Party".[45]

In April 2018, Nehlen allegedly doxed alt-right people that he saw as too moderate, willing to compromise, or unwilling to take militant street action.[46] Gab, an alt-tech platform, banned Nehlen for doxing a troll who went by the name Ricky Vaughn. After doxing the troll, who gained notoriety by posting popular racist and antisemitic memes, Nehlen claimed that the troll's real name is Douglass Mackey.[47]

In May 2019, Facebook, Inc. banned Nehlen and other controversial right-wing figures, including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, and Paul Joseph Watson from the company's platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.[48][49]

Political career[edit]

2016 primary[edit]

For his run in the 2016 Wisconsin's 1st congressional district primaries, he received endorsements from Breitbart News and the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund and people such as Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin.[50][51] He was defeated, getting 16% of the votes versus Paul Ryan with 84% of the votes.[52] When he posted a ballot selfie on election day, the Town of Delavan police said he had committed election fraud, a Class I felony. The police said he deliberately delayed an investigation by doing a factory reset on the phone and erasing the SIM card. Assistant District Attorney Haley Johnson said the ballot selfie was "technically a violation" of law, but decided not to issue criminal charges, stating Nehlen had "ignorantly posted the image to draw attention to his candidacy," and not vote buying. Johnson wrote "It is unfortunate that Mr. Nehlen showed such little regard for a law enforcement investigation."[53]

2018 primary[edit]

Nehlen ran again in the 2018 Republican primary against Nick Polce for the seat vacated by Paul Ryan, who was retiring.[54][55] He was backed by Steve Bannon until Roy Moore was defeated. Nehlen has alienated Breitbart and has been strongly criticized by the group.[19][20][21] On December 27, 2017, Bannon's adviser Arthur Schwartz said Nehlen is "dead to us" and "Bannon cut all ties with him and tossed him to the curb." Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak said: "We don't support him."[56][57] On December 27, Pollak tweeted that Breitbart had not covered Nehlen in months. On December 18, 2017 he was a featured guest on Curt Schilling's Breitbart radio show Whatever It Takes; Schilling unequivocally expressed his endorsement of Nehlen.[58]

Callum Borchers of The Washington Post said "Breitbart's move is political calculus" because it "needs to align itself with politicians who can win to help regain the appearance of influence Moore's defeat damaged."[59]

On February 13, 2018, Wisconsin GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said, "Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party." Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said, "It looks to me like he's a racist bigot." Ryan's campaign spokesman Kevin Seifert said, "It has long been clear that Paul Nehlen holds bigoted views." Nehlen responded with, "I am a member of the Republican Party regardless of what their traitorous, spineless apparatchiks believe," adding his agenda should "be the centerpiece of the Republican Party."[45]

Personal life[edit]

Nehlen is married to Gabriela Lira; they have had no children together. He has two adult sons from a previous marriage.[60]

Electoral history[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin's 1st district, Republican primary, 2016[61]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Paul Ryan (incumbent) 57,364 84.06
Republican Paul Nehlen 10,864 15.92
Scattering N/A 15 0.02
Total 68,243 100
U.S House of Representatives, Wisconsin's 1st district Republican primary, 2018[62]
Party Candidate[63] Votes %
Republican Bryan Steil 30,883 51.6
Republican Nick Polce 8,945 14.9
Republican Paul Nehlen 6,635 11.1
Republican Kevin Adam Steen 6,262 10.5
Republican Jeremy Ryan 6,221 10.4
Republican Brad Boivin 924 1.5
Total 59,870 100

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Paul Nehlen's Biography – The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "Jewish Republicans 'very confident' white supremacist won't replace Paul Ryan". The Times of Israel. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. April 12, 2018. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Oppenheim, Maya (February 13, 2018). "Republican candidate banned from twitter for racist Meghan Markle tweet". The Independent. Archived from the original on May 25, 2022.
  4. ^ Hayden, Michael Edison (April 11, 2018). "Will Paul Ryan be replaced by a white supremacist in Wisconsin?". Newsweek. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Stack, Liam (April 11, 2018). "Paul Ryan Is Leaving. Who's Running for His Seat?". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Coaston, Jane (July 9, 2018). "Self-described Nazis and white supremacists are running as Republicans across the country. The GOP is terrified". Vox. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Markay, Lachlan (April 11, 2018). "Paul Ryan's Retirement Gives a Big Boost to the Most Prominent White Nationalist in U.S. Politics". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  8. ^ Moghe, Sonia (April 12, 2018). "Meet 'Iron Stache,' the Democrat running to replace Paul Ryan in Wisconsin". CNN.
  9. ^ Miller, S.A. (March 29, 2016). "Businessman Paul Nehlen to challenge Paul Ryan from right in primary – Says he's 'had it' with House speaker betraying conservatives". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  10. ^ "Paul Nehlen's Business Timeline". Nehlen For Congress. Archived from the original on December 27, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  11. ^ "Patents by Inventor Paul F. Nehlen, III". Justia. Archived from the original on December 8, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  12. ^ O'Donnell, Dan (March 7, 2017). "Is Paul Ryan's Primary Opponent Really a Small Business Owner?". News/Talk 1130 WISN. Archived from the original on September 25, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  13. ^ O'Reilly, Andrew (July 20, 2018). "Nazis and anti-Semites slip through GOP primaries, causing headaches for party". Fox News Channel. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  14. ^ Hayden, Michael Edison (December 20, 2017). "A Republican candidate for Congress has openly embraced neo-Nazi meme culture". Newsweek. Archived from the original on December 26, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Guttman, Nathan (December 26, 2017). "Paul Nehlen, Paul Ryan's 'Alt-Right' Opponent, Goes On 'Shekel-For-Hire' Rant". The Forward. Archived from the original on December 27, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Brigham, Bob (December 20, 2017). "Bannon-backed candidate advocates murdering Paul Ryan with a fascist 'death flight'". RawStory. Archived from the original on December 27, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  17. ^ Green, Emma (January 24, 2018). "Paul Nehlen Is an Anti-Semitic Clown". The Atlantic.
  18. ^ Strickland, Patrick (February 9, 2018). "Alarm Over White Supremacist Candidates". Al Jazeera. Asked by Duke if it was wrong to support the preservation of a white-majority country, Nehlen replied that it was "right and righteous" to do so.
  19. ^ a b c d e Sommer, Allison Kaplan (December 20, 2017). "Meet the White Nationalist Who Wants to Replace House Speaker Paul Ryan". Haaretz. Archived from the original on January 2, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Kuper, Theodore (November 17, 2017). "Steve Bannon Candidates Fail". National Review. Archived from the original on November 25, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Mathias, Christopher. "A Republican Running To Replace Paul Ryan Comes With White Nationalist Street Cred". HuffPost. Archived from the original on December 28, 2017.
  22. ^ Kumar, Anugrah. "Alleged White Nationalist Tied to President Trump and Roy Moore Challenging Paul Ryan". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on December 27, 2017.
  23. ^ Shepherd, Jake (August 15, 2018). "More Than 6,600 Wisconsin Republicans Voted for a Neo-Nazi in Last Night's Primary". Gritpost. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "US politician Paul Nehlen's racist tweets at Meghan Markle see his account permanently suspended by Twitter". Firstpost. February 13, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  25. ^ Rubin, Nathan (December 28, 2017). "Roy Moore lost. But there are already more like him". Millennial Politics. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  26. ^ EST, Michael Edison Hayden on 1/30/18 at 6:53 pm (January 30, 2018). "A Republican who appears on white supremacist podcasts published a list of "Jews" in the media". Newsweek. Retrieved May 10, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ "#ShallNotCensor – Paul Nehlen for Congress". Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  28. ^ Mason, Kyla Calvert (January 31, 2018). "Paul Nehlen Posts List of Critics, Says '74 are Jews'". Wisconsin Public Radio. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  29. ^ Stein, Jason (January 31, 2018). "Paul Ryan challenger posts phone numbers of critics after claiming '74 are Jews'". USA Today. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  30. ^ Paul Nehlen [@pnehlen] (December 20, 2017). "See, now we're getting somewhere @AriCohn. You can't fill a Jesus shaped hole in your heart by trolling the internet, calling people names" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 23, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018 – via Twitter.
  31. ^ Hayden, Michael Edison (December 27, 2017). "Neo-Nazis celebrated Republican Paul Nehlen's endorsement of an anti-Semitic book". Newsweek. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  32. ^ Paul Nehlen [@pnehlen] (December 27, 2017). "Currently reading" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 5, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018 – via Twitter.
  33. ^ Paul Nehlen [@pnehlen] (January 4, 2018). "As you know, I'm currently reading The Culture of Critique, which is outstanding so far. Newsweek recetly [sic] published a grotesque smear piece on the book. Here is the response to that piece by the book's author, Professor Kevin MacDonald. …" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 4, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018 – via Twitter.
  34. ^ Weigel, David (December 27, 2017). "Ryan's 'pro-white' primary foe denounced by Breitbart after his anti-Semitic tweets". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  35. ^ "Paul Nehlen". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  36. ^ Franklin, Jonathan (January 9, 2001). "Chilean army admits 120 thrown into sea". The Guardian.
  37. ^ Diamond, Jeremy (August 2, 2016). "Trump praises Ryan's primary challenger". CNN. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  38. ^ Mccaskill, Nolan D. (May 6, 2016). "Paul Ryan's primary opponent: I'll support Trump". POLITICO. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  39. ^ a b Hayden, Michael Edison (March 14, 2018). "The alt-right's first candidate is too right for many white nationalists". Newsweek. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  40. ^ Morton, Victor (February 11, 2018). "Paul Nehlen Twitter account suspended". The Washington Times.
  41. ^ Sommer, Allison Kaplan (January 30, 2018). "Meet Paul Nehlen, the Hate-baiting Republican Trying to Unseat Paul Ryan". Haaretz.
  42. ^ a b Phillips, Kristine (February 13, 2018). "GOP politician from Wisconsin banned from Twitter for photoshopped Meghan Markle tweet". Chicago Tribune.
  43. ^ Sullivan, Emily (February 13, 2018). "Twitter Bans GOP Contender For Racist Tweet Targeting Meghan Markle". NPR.
  44. ^ Scott, Bauer (February 13, 2018). "Republicans Distance Themselves From Ryan Foe Paul Nehlen". Associated Press.
  45. ^ a b Sommerhauser, Mark (February 14, 2018). "State GOP: 'No place in the Republican Party' for Wisconsin congressional candidate banned by Twitter". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  46. ^ "In another major stumble for the alt-right, pundit "Ricky Vaughn" allegedly doxed by Paul Nehlen". Southern Poverty Law Center. April 3, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  47. ^ Pink, Aiden (April 5, 2018). "Even The Alt-Right Is Sick of Paul Nehlen". FastForward.
  48. ^ Katie Paul (May 2, 2019). "Facebook bans Alex Jones, other extremist figures". Reuters.
  49. ^ Isaac, Mike; Roose, Kevin (May 2, 2019). "Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan and Others From Its Services". The New York Times.
  50. ^ "Paul Nehlen and Breitbart's Shameless Opportunism". National Review. January 5, 2018. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  51. ^ "Paul Nehlen's Political Summary". Vote Smart. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  52. ^ "Paul Nehlen". Ballotpedia. Archived from the original on May 4, 2017.
  53. ^ "Police: Republican Paul Nehlen deliberately delayed investigation into ballot selfie". July 11, 2017. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  54. ^ "POLCE, NICK - Candidate overview -". Archived from the original on December 27, 2017.
  55. ^ "Paul Nehlen and Breitbart's Shameless Opportunism". December 21, 2017. Archived from the original on December 27, 2017.
  56. ^ Darcy, Oliver. "Bannon adviser: Paul Ryan challenger Paul Nehlen is 'dead to us' after inflammatory tweets". Archived from the original on December 27, 2017.
  57. ^ "Breitbart cuts ties with Paul Ryan rival Paul Nehlen over anti-Semitic rhetoric". Haaretz. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 27, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  58. ^ Legum, Judd (December 28, 2017). "Breitbart quietly deletes recent interview with openly racist congressional candidate". ThinkProgress. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  59. ^ Borchers, Callum (December 28, 2017). "Analysis | The real reason Breitbart abandoned 'pro-white' Paul Nehlen". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  60. ^ Zambo, Kristin (April 10, 2016). "Delavan businessman hopes to unseat Ryan". The Journal Times.
  61. ^ "Wisconsin Elections Commission". Wisconsin Elections Commission. August 9, 2016. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  62. ^ "Paul Ryan Is Leaving. Who's Running for His Seat?". The New York Times. April 11, 2018.
  63. ^ These are candidates who have announced the intention to run; nominating papers must be filed by June 1, 2018. The Republican primaries will be held on August 14, 2018, followed by the general election on November 6, 2018.

External links[edit]