Ohio Republican J.R. Majewski, a QAnon ally who proved to be one of his party’s very worst nominees for any office in 2022, said Monday that he was thinking about seeking a rematch against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Majewski, whom the NRCC abandoned after the Associated Press reported that he’d lied about serving in Afghanistan, wrote, “As I consider, I want to make it clear: my decision will not be made by the DC Swamp or the political establishment … I’m looking forward to making a decision very soon!”
A Majewski reprise would not be welcome news for national Republicans, who will want to target Kaptur again after their counterparts in the Buckeye State get the chance to gerrymander the state’s congressional map all over again. Kaptur, who was first elected to represent the Toledo area in 1982, was a top redistricting target last cycle, and Republicans thought they had her on the ropes after they radically transformed her 9th District from a 59-40 Biden constituency to one that Trump would have taken 51-48.
However, everything changed when Majewski, a conservative activist who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, shocked everyone by defeating two state legislators in the May 2022 primary to face the longest-serving congresswoman in American history. Kaptur and her allies recognized the opportunity that Republican voters had handed them, and they went on to air a litany of ads arguing that Majewski’s presence at the riot proved that he was a danger to law enforcement. (Majewski claims he never actually entered the Capitol building.)
Democrats also utilized footage of the Republican speaking favorably of secession and rapping in a video titled “Let’s Go Brandon Save America” to make their case that he shouldn’t be in Congress. A Kaptur commercial additionally highlighted Majewski’s ties to QAnon, with a narrator saying, “The FBI calls QAnon a domestic terrorist threat […] Extremist J. R. Majewski is one of them.” Majewski, who said in 2020 he identified himself as a supporter of the conspiracy cult, said during the campaign, “I denounce QAnon. I do not support Q, and I do not subscribe to their conspiracy theories.”
National Republicans still stuck with Majewski during all this, and Kevin McCarthy even stumped for him in August. However, they had second thoughts the following month after the AP reported that military documents showed that Majewski, who had previously said he “lost my grandmother when I was in Afghanistan,” had never been stationed in the country. Instead, the self-described “combat veteran” spent six months in 2002 loading planes at an Air Force base in Qatar, far from the front lines. That seems to have been it for the NRCC, which yanked its planned spending the next day even as their nominee continued to insist he’d really served in Afghanistan.
Democratic outside groups, though, continued to air ads here even as Majewski found himself on the receiving end of more unflattering stories about his actual military career, including how he’d been unable to enlist in the Air Force after being punished for drunk driving on an air base. (New York Republican George Santos’ serial lies, by contrast, weren’t publicly known until over a month after Election Day.) Kaptur ended up defeating Majewski in a 57-43 landslide, a result that somehow hasn’t deterred him from mulling a rematch.