Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff

By: - November 2, 2021 6:07 pm

By Ryan Deto

The Iron City Citizens Response Unit is an extremist militia group based in the Pittsburgh area that has generated a lot of controversy over the years, including associations with symbols linked to white nationalism, and having several Republican political candidates dissociate with the militia group after initially praising them.

And now, two local Republican committees in Allegheny County are asking voters to write-in the head of the militia group, Matt Wakulik, for Allegheny County Sheriff. Kevin Kraus is both the Democratic and Republican nominee for Allegheny County Sheriff for the 2021 election.

Matt Wakulik with Oakmont GOP Committee chair Veronica Steinkirchner in an Oct. 30 post encouraging voters to write-in Wakulik for Allegheny County Sheriff (Pittsburgh City Paper screen capture)

In a photo posted to Facebook on Oct. 30, the Oakmont GOP Committee seemingly endorsed Wakulik’s apparent write-in campaign. “Matt Wakulik write in for Allegheny County Sheriff” reads text next to a photo of Wakulik and Oakmont GOP Committee chair Veronica Steinkirchner.

When reached, the Oakmont GOP Committee declined to comment on the post. And on Nov. 1, the Pittsburgh 3rd City Council District Republican Committee posted on the committee’s Facebook page calling for voters to write-in Wakulik for sheriff.

Both Oakmont GOP Committee and Pittsburgh 3rd City Council District Republican Committee are listed as local committees of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.

RCAC chair and Allegheny County Councilor at-large Sam DeMarco (R-North Fayette) said the RCAC does not support this write-in effort.

“I’ve not met or spoken to this gentleman, or know anything about him,” DeMarco said in reference to Wakulilk. “We are focused on electing the candidates we do have on the ballot today and that is where my efforts and that of the County Committee are focused.”

Wakulik once called Pittsburgh City Paper “communist” and the “enemy of America” when CP asked him about IC CRU members sporting Valknots, a symbol with associations to white nationalism. On his social media, Wakulik often derides “communists” and calls those with different ideologies “tyrants” and “evil” and seemingly supports violent vigilantism.

On Aug. 10, Wakulik posted praise on Facebook for the racist manifesto “Might is Right or The Survival of the Fittest,” an 1890 book that, according to NBC News, is “filled with misogynistic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, is a staple among neo-Nazis and white supremacists on extremist sites.”

In late August, a boat parade and rally was initially scheduled with several Republican candidates, conservative activist groups, and the IC CRU. But after being asked for comment by CP, candidates including Tony Moreno, a Republican candidate for Pittsburgh mayor, and Jason Richey, a Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, dropped out of the event.

The boat parade was eventually canceled and the rally was moved to Verona, where many residents criticized the restaurant that hosted Wakulik and a string of far-right candidates, such as Rick Saccone.

On the Oakmont GOP Committee post, some commenters questioned the committee’s association with Wakulik.

In response, the Oakmont GOP Committee Facebook account wrote, “don’t be sorry, facts don’t care about your feelings dear. If you don’t like brave, law abiding, Constitution and America loving people like him then that’s your problem.”

Ryan Deto is a reporter from Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared

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