WEST CHESTER — Ron Vogel, the neophyte congressional candidate who won support from area Republicans for his campaign against what he called the “woke far-left mob” has decided to drop out of his race for the seat of the 6th congressional district now held by US Democrats. Representative Chrissy Houlahan.
Vogel said his decision was made after the “abusive and ad hominem attacks” against him escalated and resulted in “harassment and threats against me and my family”.
“I have come to the conclusion that running for Congress is not in their best interest and that of my party,” he said in a statement to MediaNews Group. “Politics will always be there, but not those formative years in the lives of my young children. I will spend more time with my family. After all, they’ve put a lot of things on hold for me over the past five months.
“I will pause my campaign for the time being,” Vogel wrote.
The dramatic announcement came on Tuesday, after concerns were raised in Republican Party circles over Vogel’s candidacy when video and text messages attributed to him containing elements of anti-Semitic messages, sexism and racially tinged language were reported by MediaNews Group. The posts have called into question his past and heightened concerns about his campaign, people associated with the Chester County Republican Party said on Tuesday.
Vogel reportedly communicated his intentions to GOP Chairman Dr. Gordon Eck on Tuesday morning, after learning that if he did not give up, the GOP committee would issue a formal no-confidence against him and deny his help in the primary election. of May 17, sources who asked to remain anonymous because they had not been authorized to speak on behalf of the party.
Members of the committee’s board of directors voted against pursuing Vogel in the race for the Republican nomination Monday at a mass meeting of Republican officials, by a tally of 18 to 8, those in the race said. aware of the situation.
The move also came after County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, the county’s top GOP elected official, and others publicly and privately called on him to step down and on the party to rescind its support for his candidacy. Kichline called the messages she viewed attributed to the newcomer “beyond disturbing”.
“The cavalier manner in which he belittles women, insults African Americans and shines a light on the Holocaust should ring alarm bells for every voter and especially members of the Chester County Republican Committee,” Kichline said in a statement. a statement emailed to MediaNews Group. Monday. “As the scion of a Hungarian family that had to endure Nazi atrocities, I call on my fellow Republicans to speak out against Vogel’s actions. This is not a time for weak leadership.
The decision is a blow to Vogel, 36, of Charlestown, a Montgomery County real estate agent and Chester County native who first emerged on the political scene in January when he announced he would was running against Houlahan, the two-term MP who represents all of Chester County and the southern part of Berks County, including Reading.
By February, he had nearly won the approval of the Chester County GOP committee, leading all voters to the party’s convention but failing to pass the 60 percent threshold. Instead, he and Chester County Chamber of Commerce and Industry leader Guy Ciarrocchi both received the party’s “recommendation”.
Then on Saturday, Vogel celebrated the Berks County Republican Committee’s decision to give him its formal recommendation, along with fellow candidate Regina Mauro.
“I am honored to be the only nominee to receive the recommendation of the Chester County and Berks Republican Committee,” he said in a Facebook campaign post. “My campaign has succeeded where others have failed because my candidacy embodies the common sense, conservative Pennsylvania values we need to defeat U.S. Rep. Chrissie Houlahan.
“I urge Republican voters to unite behind my candidacy in the May 17 primary as we march to victory over Houlahan and the far-left Woke crowd,” he said in the post.
But momentum against him was building even then after the publication of posts he had shared on his personal Facebook page, some with Nazi imagery, dating back to years when he was an unknown in politics. Those who saw them called them offensive and shocking.
In a statement he released last week through a Washington, D.C. political strategist, however, Vogel denied being responsible for the publications and instead blamed “cancellation culture” and “false news” to pay attention to them.
He suggested that one of his opponents in the race, whom he did not identify, was using them to attack his stance on transgender women in women’s athletics – although those issues do not go into posts on social networks.
“Let’s be clear: These images are doctored, false or completely out of context, and they will not stop my campaign or stop me from standing up for our daughters, sisters and mothers,” her statement read.
One of the videos on YouTube includes part of a song called “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 pejorative term referring to women.
The second appears to show Vogel exchanging texts on Facebook with two men who use a racist slur for black people – although in the texts Vogel himself sent, the specific word is not used, only an abbreviation for it- ci and a word using wildcards.
Finally, another screenshot of a message Vogel allegedly shared on YouTube shows an image of Adolph Hitler supposedly angry at the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. In his comments, Vogel calls it “the FUNNIEST video I’ve seen in a long time.”
But on Tuesday, Vogel appeared to acknowledge his association with the posts.
“Over a decade ago, I posted insensitive remarks and links to YouTube videos on Facebook,” he said in his email. “I apologize to anyone who has been hurt by them. These posts and statements do not represent who I am as a person.
But he defended his campaign’s central message, recalling former President Donald Trump’s position – “Make America Great Again”.
“I brought home our party’s core values: the right to life, free enterprise, American exceptionalism and individual freedoms,” he said in his statement. “I reminded people that America-First candidates still resonate with voters in Chester and Berks counties. I shaped the narrative and am proud that my work has improved the political process.
Other candidates in the party’s race include Ciarrocchi; Birmingham businessman Steve Fanelli; and Mauro, a Tredyffrin businesswoman who in 2021 ran for county comptroller. None commented on the withdrawal.
Speaking about the process within the party that pushed Vogel toward his unprecedented decision, a GOP source who also asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely confirmed that the vote against Vogel remaining in the race was “overwhelming.”
Not only was the subject matter and language of the positions awarded to him disqualifying, those in favor of his removal said, but they would leave the party with an unelected candidate against Houlahan in the fall if he wins the vote. inauguration next month.
The emergency meeting in which the vote took place was held at GOP headquarters in West Chester on Monday evening, lasted two hours and included committee chairmen from various geographic areas of the county, party officials and others. Kichlin spoke at the start of the meeting, urging the committee to take action against Vogel, but then left the session when his debate began.
Vogel did not appear.
The source described the discussion as “heated” and “emotional,” with Vogel supporters opposing the move and others saying keeping it going would be detrimental to the party. His supporters called the news about the social media posts an effort by the party establishment, working in conjunction with the news media, to derail his candidacy. Those advocating for his ouster said his candidacy was already doomed. “There’s no way he can win in the fall,” the source quoted them as saying.
The effect of having Vogel suspend his campaign means that he will not appear on any GOP documents from now on, or as a candidate on the committee’s website. It will also not be listed on the sample ballots distributed at the polls on Election Day. “It erases him from the party,” said one Republican.
But the source who spoke about the committee’s actions noted that mail-in and absentee ballots with Vogel’s name listed in the 6th District race had already been mailed to voters requesting them. “It’s a huge headache for the party,” they said.
A spokeswoman for the Chester County Voter Services Office said any candidate who suspended their campaign on that date would still be on the ballot because it was too late to make changes. However, withdrawal notices would be posted on the office’s website and posted at polling stations.
To contact editor Michael P. Rellahan, call 610-696-1544.