On June 21, 2022, people will once again head to the polls to vote in the primary ahead of November’s General Election, where all 11 of Virginia’s US House representatives are up for election.
In the Second Congressional District, currently represented by Elaine Luria, the incumbent on this year’s Democratic primary ballot, there are four Republican candidates vying to be the main Republican opponent to Luria: Jennifer Kiggans, Andy Baan, Tommy Altman, and Jarome Bell. Of those four candidates, Bell’s values align most closely with former President Donald Trump’s, and that’s worrisome. Like Trump, and even current Gov. Glenn Youngkin, he is not a politician. In a candidate profile with WAVY, he said “I’m an outsider, and a fighter like President Trump was.”
An “America First” Candidate
Bell, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, is running on the pro-Trump “America First” platform, echoing many remarks the former president has previously made. He believes that Congress should make decisions to better the United States, instead of “the interests of the rest of the world.”
In his “America First” section on his website, he says that by sending America’s military to fight wars around the world and sending foreign aid to “terror-friendly nations,” Congress hasn’t put the nation first. He also states that “the Communist Chinese Party” is the biggest threat to America in the 21st Century, going even further to blame the coronavirus pandemic on the Chinese with the xenophobic term “China Virus.”
He also doesn’t believe Russia is as big of a threat to the world as China. Right after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, he joined conservative right-wing host Stew Peters on his program. In that program, he defended Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the sovereign nation, also going as far to say “the media is complacent in this war.”
When it comes to immigration, he wants a 10-year moratorium on all types of immigration, because “Americans need to be first for jobs and education.” He calls for a suspension of the H1B visa program, the F1-OPT program, and the H4EAD visa program. He wants Americans to be employed “for our nation’s safety,” and wants to fix the “America Last” system by pausing all forms of legal immigration.
Bell also believes that illegal immigration and refugee resettlement threatens America’s security and the economy. He wants every illegal alien who gets arrested to be deported, and he wants to criminalize sanctuary cities.
“I oppose all forms of amnesty — no matter what pressure the establishment brings to bear,” is straight from his agenda, which seems cruel given current circumstances where some Ukrainian refugees are arriving in America to escape the ongoing war.
When it comes to education, his agenda states that parents should have the right to choose where and how their children get schooled. He also wants to end Common Core instruction, and push for school choice — a popular talking point with Virginia’s conservatives.
Pushing Conspiracies on Social Media
Back in September, in a since-deleted Tweet, Bell said: “Audit all 50 states. Arrest all involved. Try all involved. Convict all involved. Execute all involved.” The tweet in question referred to Arizona’s audit of the 2020 election, which was legitimately won by Joe Biden. Bell has also been banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation and violent rhetoric.
On his Facebook page, it’s not uncommon to see conspiracy theories, transphobic remarks, xenophobic remarks, and even political conspiracy memes appear. In the past, some of his posts were also removed by Meta, the company that owns Facebook, for spreading misinformation. He has also posted antisemitic conspiracy theories, and has openly made antisemitic remarks, telling right-wing outlet National File that she “uses her Jewish heritage like Democrats use Blacks when they race bait.”
Bell has been endorsed by Rep. Bob Good (VA-05), former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers, who was one of the lawmakers who pushed forward to investigate the 2020 election, as well as Corey Stewart.
Rep. Good is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and he is the first GOP congressman to endorse anyone in the VA-02 race.
“He has pledged to join the House Freedom Caucus and will be another courageous warrior fighting in Washington for our true conservative principles and to defeat the radical left,” Good said in a statement.
Bell has also been endorsed by the Veterans for America First group, which is a rebranded “Veterans for Trump” group that also pushes the harmful “America First” rhetoric. He has also been linked to one of the two men who drove from Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Nov. 5, 2020 to interfere with the presidential election: Joshua Macias, who is a Veterans for America First member, as well as one of the insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Daily Beast has reported that Macias has broken the conditions of his bail from his actions on Jan. 6, and has used social media to push extremist views.