Political ****** ads can be vicious – but the jabs don’t normally come from the candidate’s own family. That, though, is what has happened to the Arizona Republican Paul Gosar. And then some.
Six of Gosar’s nine siblings are helping his Democratic opponent by starring in a series of campaign messages. As news of the ads spread on Saturday, Gosar responded defiantly, calling his brothers and sisters “disgruntled Hillary supporters” of whom “Stalin would be proud”.
In the UK, Gosar is known for turning up during Donald Trump’s visit this summer and speaking in support of the jailed English Defence League founder and white nationalist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson.
In their ads for David Brill, the Democratic challenger in Gosar’s rural north-western Arizona district in the November midterms, the various other Gosars do not mention Tommy Robinson. But they do hit hard.
In one ad, which percolated on Twitter on Friday after being unveiled at a Democratic fundraiser the day before, the siblings do not immediately reveal their identities.
A woman called Grace, identified as a rural physician, says: “Paul Gosar, the congressman, isn’t doing anything to help rural America.”
A lawyer called David says: “Paul’s absolutely not working for his district.”
Jennifer, a medical interpreter, slams Gosar on healthcare, social security and the environment.
A man named Tim, a private investigator, says: “He’s not listening to you and he doesn’t have your interests at heart.”
He then looks at the camera and says: “My name is Tim Gosar.”
The other siblings then identify themselves, as do Joan and Gaston, and endorse Brill.
Brill can hardly keep the schadenfreude out of his voice when he ends the ad by saying: “I’m Dr David Brill and I endorse this message.”
In another ad, Joan Gosar says she is saddened but feels obliged to speak out.
“I think my brother has traded a lot of the values we had at our kitchen table,” she says.
The Gosar siblings fell out with their brother after he espoused rightwing conspiracy theories about George Soros, claiming the financier who backed Hillary Clinton over Trump betrayed his fellow Jews to the Nazis in the second world war.
When Paul Gosar backed the far-right marchers whose rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 resulted in the ***** of a counter-protester, his siblings wrote to an Arizona paper to say: “We are aghast that Paul has sunk so low.”
On Saturday afternoon, Gosar responded on Twitter.
“You can’t pick your family,” he wrote.
Gosar added “not one of my siblings lives in Arizona” and said: “These disgruntled Hillary supporters are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Stalin would be proud.”
His mother, Bernadette Gosar, 85, told the New York Times she shared “philosophy and policies” with Paul and was “shocked” and “crushed” by the videos featuring his siblings supporting Brill.
David Gosar told the Times “this is the Gosar siblings coming forward for the good of our country”. But Paul Gosar tweeted a link to the article and said: “I guess I really am Mom’s favorite! … Awww. Thanks.”