Vogel, haunted by social media posts, suspends campaign – Daily Local

WEST CHESTER — Ron Vogel, the neophyte candidate for Congress who gained support among area Republicans for his campaign against what he called the “woke far-left mob” has decided to withdraw from his run for the 6th Congressional District seat now held by Democratic US Rep. Chrissy Houlahan.

Vogel said his decision came after “mudslinging and ad hominem attacks” against him had escalated and brought “harassment and threats to me and my family.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that running for Congress is not in their best interests and that of my party,” he said in a statement issued to MediaNews Group. “Politics will always be here, but these formative years in my young children’s lives will not. I’ll be spending more time with my family. After all, they’ve put a lot on hold for me over the past five months.

“I am going to suspend my campaign at this time,” Vogel wrote.

The dramatic announcement came Tuesday, after concerns were raised in Republican Party circles about Vogel’s candidacy when video and text messages attributed to him that contained elements of anti-Semitic messages, sexism and racially tinged language were reported by MediaNews Group. Those messages his past into question and raised concerns about his campaign, those associated with the Chester County Republican Party said Tuesday.

Vogel reportedly had communicated his intentions to GOP Chairman Dr. Gordon Eck Tuesday morning after he was told that if he did not drop out, the GOP committee would issue a formal censure against him and withhold its in the May 17 Primary Election, sources who asked to remain anonymous because they had not been given authority to speak for the party said.

Members of the committee’s Executive Board voted against Vogel continuing in the race for the Republican nomination on Monday at a mass meeting of Republican officials, by a tally of 18-8, those aware of the situation said.

The move also came after county Commissioner Michelle Kichline, the GOP’s highest ranking county official, and others publicly and privately called for him to step aside and for the party to rescind its support of his candidacy. Kichline called the posts she had viewed attributed to the newcomer were “beyond troubling.”

“The cavalier manner in which he demeans women, slurs African-Americans and makes light of the Holocaust should sound the alarm bells for every voter and especially the members of the Republican Committee of Chester County,” said Kichline in an emailed statement to MediaNews Group Monday. “As a descendant of a Hungarian family that had to endure the atrocities of the Nazis, I called upon my fellow Republicans to denounce Vogel’s actions. This is not a moment for weak leadership.”

The decision comes as a stunning blow for Vogel, 36, of Charlestown, a Montgomery County Realtor and Chester County native who appeared on the political scene for the first time in January when he announced he was running against Houlahan, the two-term congresswoman who represents all of Chester County and the southern portion of Berks County, including Reading.

By February, he had nearly captured the endorsement from the Chester County GOP committee, leading all vote getters at the party’s convention but failing to cross the threshold count of 60 percent. Instead, he and Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry executive Guy Ciarrocchi were both given the party’s “recommendation.”

Then Saturday, Vogel celebrated the Berks County Republican Committee’s decision to give him its formal recommendation, along with fellow Regina Mauro.

“I am honored to be the only candidate to receive the recommendation of both the Chester and Berks County Republican Committee,” he said in a campaign Facebook post. “My campaign succeeded where others failed because my candidacy embodies the common-sense, conservative Pennsylvania values ​​we need to defeat US Rep. Chrissie Houlahan.

“I urge Republican voters to unite behind my candidacy in the May 17th primary as we march towards victory over Houlahan and the Woke far-left mob,” he said in the post.

But the momentum against him was building even then after news emerged from the posts he had shared on his personal Facebook page, some with Nazi imagery, dating back several years when he was an unknown in politics. Those who saw them called them offensive and shocking.

In a statement he issued through a Washington, DC political strategist last week, however, Vogel denied he was responsible for the posts, and instead blamed “cancel culture” and “fake news” for paying attention to them.

He suggested one of his opponents in the race, whom he did not identify, was using them to attack his stance on transgender women in female athletics — although those matters do not enter into the social media posts.

“Let me be clear: these images are doctored, fake, or wildly out of context, and they will not stop my campaign or stop me from speaking out in defense of our daughters, sisters, and mothers,” his read.

One of the videos on YouTube includes a portion of a song titled, “Hitler Was A Sensitive Man,” and shows a photo of the Nazi leader with a bouquet of flowers. The artist who recorded the song goes by a pseudonym that includes a derogatory term referring to women.

The second appears to show Vogel exchanging texts on Facebook with two men that use a racially charged slur for Black people — although in the texts Vogel himself sent the specific word is not used, only an abbreviation for it and a word using substitute characters.

Finally, another screenshot of a post that Vogel allegedly shared from YouTube shows an image of Adolph Hitler supposedly angry about the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. In his comments, Vogel refers to it as “the FUNNIEST video I have seen in a long time.”

But on Tuesday, Vogel seemed to acknowledge his association with the posts.

“Over a decade ago I posted some insensitive remarks and links to YouTube videos on Facebook,” he said in his email. “I apologize to anyone who was hurt by them. Those posts and statements do not represent who I am as a person.”

But he defended the core message of his campaign, reminiscent of the stance of former President Donald Trump — “Make America Great Again.”

“I drove home our party’s core values: the right to life, free enterprise, American exceptionalism, and individual liberties,” he said in his statement. “I reminded the people that America-First candidates still resonate with the voters in Chester and Berks counties. I shaped the narrative, and I’m proud that my work made the political process better.”

Other candidates in the party’s race include Ciarrocchi; Birmingham businessman Steve Fanelli; and Mauro, a Tredyffrin businesswoman who in 2021 ran for county controller. None offered comment on the withdrawal.

Speaking of the process in the party that helped spur Vogel towards his decision, a GOP source who also asked to remain anonymous so as to speak freely confirmed that the vote against Vogel in the race was “overwhelming.”

Not only was the subject matter and language of the posts that were attributed to him disqualifying, those speaking in favor of his withdrawal said, but they would leave the party with an unelectable candidate against Houlahan in the fall should he secure the nomination next month.

The emergency meeting at which the vote took place was held at the GOP headquarters in West Chester Monday evening, lasted two hours, and featured chairs of the committees for various geographical areas in the county, party officers, and others. Kichline spoke at the beginning of the meeting, urging the committee to take action against Vogel, but then left the session when its debate began.

Vogel did not appear.

The source described the discussion as “heated” and “emotional,” with Vogel’s supporters arguing against the move and others saying for him to remain damaging to the party. His supporters called news about the social media posts an effort by the party’s establishment, working in connection with the news media, to derail his candidacy. Those arguing for his ouster said his candidacy was already doomed. “There is no way he can win in the fall,” the source quoted those as saying.

The effect of having Vogel suspend his campaign means that he will not appear on any of the GOP literature from now on, or as a candidate on the committee’s website. Nor will he be listed on sample ballots that are distributed at the polls on Election Day. “It erases him from the party,” one Republican said.

But the source who spoke of the committee’s actions noted that absentee and mail-in ballots with Vogel’s name listed in the 6th District race had already gone out to those voters requesting them. “This is a massive headache for the party,” they said.

A spokeswoman for the Chester County Office of Voter Services said that any candidate who suspends their campaign at this date would still be listed on the ballots at the polls because it was too late to make changes. However, notices of the withdrawal would be made on the office’s website, and posted at the polls.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *