PORT CLINTON — J.R. Majewski, the northern Ohio man whose pro-Trump lawn went viral last summer, says he’s running for U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s congressional seat.
Mr. Majewski, who in July turned his Port Clinton-area yard into a giant blue-and-white re-election banner for President Donald Trump — an act of support for which the former president thanked him in a tweet — told The Blade questions surrounding the presidential election’s legitimacy prompted his first run for office.
“Watching the election get stolen, I think … I don’t want to say stolen. There were definitely things that happened that caused speculation, and where there’s smoke there’s fire,” said Mr. Majewski, a 41-year-old project manager who works in the nuclear-power industry.
“I won’t sit here today and say that I have factual evidence that Joe Biden didn’t beat President Trump in a fair election. I can’t say that,” Mr. Majewski said. “But what I can say is there were enough things that caused concern or areas of question to the point that we should have been a little bit more intrusive from an auditing perspective.”
Recounts and audits in battleground states that Mr. Biden flipped in 2020, as well as dozens of court challenges from the Trump campaign, failed to turn up evidence of widespread voter fraud. But the baseless theory that Mr. Biden’s electoral win was somehow illegitimate lives on in far-right circles.
Mr. Majewski is also linked to the QAnon movement, but denies ascribing to the improbable and discredited conspiracy theories espoused by its far-right adherents.
The left-leaning blog Media Matters reported that Mr. Majewski used QAnon hashtags on social media, associated with a QAnon influencer banned from some social media sites, and wore a T-shirt with the QAnon symbol during a Fox News interview. His Twitter account is currently set to “private,” although he has almost 19,000 followers.
Distancing himself from the pro-Trump conspiracy movement — based on beliefs in elitist, Satan-worshiping pedophiles and a “Deep State” plot to take down Mr. Trump — Mr. Majewski said he didn’t realize the meaning behind the shirt and later donated it to the Salvation Army.
“I’ve never read any QAnon drop — what they call the ‘Q drop,’ what they post on the website,” he said.
But he did admit to associating with followers.
“You’ll see me on the podcast with a guy that believes in QAnon,” Mr. Majewski said. “He’s like, ‘J.R., you need to go and read the Q drops….’ Like, I respect your beliefs, if you want to believe that stuff, that’s fine. I’m not going to bias myself to a bunch of people who want to write these things.”
Mr. Majewski said he was in Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection, but didn’t enter the Capitol building.
He also touts his connection to the former president — his pinned tweet is Mr. Trump recognizing him for his lawn banner — and claims to have appeared as a surrogate for the campaign at small local rallies. But a Republican close to Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign in Ohio said it wasn’t in any officially sanctioned capacity.
“I don’t want it to be misperceived that I have President Trump on speed dial, but I have been reached out to by his campaign team and I’ve helped them. I’ve spoken for him at rallies,” Mr. Majewski said.
Mr. Majewski filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 25, officially launching his campaign. And since then he’s already come under fire from U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s first declared Democratic opponent, Jeff Sites. Mr. Jordan’s and Ms. Kaptur’s congressional districts border one another in several coastal Lake Erie counties.
Mr. Majewski’s campaign site features three photos of him with Mr. Jordan on its homepage. Mr. Majewski said he knows Mr. Jordan, an Urbana Republican, but doesn’t have a direct line to him. Mr. Jordan’s campaign denied a relationship between the two.
“Mr. Jordan does not have a relationship with J.R. Majewski. Like most public figures, he takes pictures with thousands of people,” a campaign spokesman said.
Mr. Sites has tied Mr. Majewski to lawmakers with sympathies for right-wing ideology and conspiracy theories. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Georgia) was the nation’s first prominent QAnon-affiliated candidate, seemingly forging a path for similarly aligned aspiring lawmakers. Mr. Majewski has tweeted in support of Ms. Greene.
“[Jim] Jordan is an out-of-control extremist who has worked hard to fill Capitol Hill with other out-of-control extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, and he was a key enabler of the Big Lie that caused Jan. 6. He owes us answers as to whether he’s now working with open insurrectionists. Is Jim Jordan building a QAnon Caucus in Congress?” Mr. Sites said in a statement.
As a local candidate, Mr. Majewski, who lives in Bay Township outside Port Clinton, highlights his ties to Toledo as a North End native, his service in the Air Force, and background in union organizing while working in security at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. He said his campaign doesn’t hinge on getting endorsements from Mr. Trump or Mr. Jordan.
He said he has nothing against Ms. Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, or Democrats in general, but wants to see fresh voices in Congress.
“I’m not going to attack Marcy Kaptur. I’m not going to call her evil and all these other things because I don’t truly believe Marcy is evil,” he said. “My grandparents supported Marcy Kaptur. My grandmother adored Marcy Kaptur and so did my great-grandmother. They adored her.”
Ms. Kaptur’s campaign declined to comment. She has previously attracted outspoken and controversial Republican opponents in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District.
In 2012, she ran against Samuel Wurzelbacher, also known as Joe the Plumber, who gained national fame after his 2008 encounter with then-candidate Barack Obama in Toledo. In 2018, she faced Steven Kraus, a former Ohio House of Representatives member removed from office after a felony burglary conviction he tried unsuccessfully to overturn.