(CNN) — The National Republican Congressional Committee is canceling its ad reservations in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, a sign that the party is losing faith in J.R. Majewski’s controversial bid to unseat the longtime Democratic incumbent.
The committee had planned to spend more than $700,000 on the northwest Ohio race, according to CNN’s ad tracker AdImpact, but it cut those reservations shortly after the Associated Press reported Majewski had misrepresented his military service.
The report appears to have been the final straw for a candidate who was a participant in the Capitol rally on January 6, 2021, and has repeatedly shared pro-QAnon material.
Majewski responded to the cancellations during a news conference on Friday, directing reporters to ask the committee why it cut its planned spending. He also pushed back against the AP reporting that he misrepresented his military service, claiming he “flew into combat zones often, specifically in Afghanistan” and that “anyone insinuating that I did not serve in Afghanistan is lying.”
A spokesman for the NRCC did not respond to a request for comment.
With the Democrats’ narrow majority in the House, the race between Majewski and incumbent Marcy Kaptur is key in this year’s midterm battle for control of the chamber.
Majewski unexpectedly won the newly drawn district’s Republican primary, defeating more establishment politicians. He rose to prominence for his unflinching support of former President Donald Trump, including by painting his front lawn into a 19,000-square-foot Trump 2020 sign. He appeared in the MAGA rapper Forgiato Blow’s song “Let’s Go Brandon Save America,” rapping one verse decrying “woke” politics.
Majewski has also said that he raised $20,000 to $25,000 to bring people to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally but says they “went there to support the president peacefully.”
Democrats cheered Majewski’s primary win, viewing him as a weaker general election candidate against Kaptur, 76, who has been in office for nearly 40 years and was widely seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrat members of Congress after her district was redrawn to be more Republican.
Kaptur has tried to focus her race on her ties to the area, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that being a midwestern Democrat in a party increasingly run with big-city sensibilities on both coasts is a growing challenge for her.
“What coastal people, God bless them, don’t understand, is that we lost our middle class,” Kaptur said. “We lost so many people who’ve worked hard all their lives, including in many of these small towns. I understand that. We feel their pain. We went through it together.”
Trump has endorsed Majewski and praised him at a recent rally in Ohio.
Majewski, 42, has presented himself as an Air Force combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The AP’s investigation cited military records that indicate much of his active-duty service was at Kadena Air Base in Japan and that in 2002 he deployed for six months to Qatar, where he helped load and unload planes. The records do not indicate any service in Afghanistan.
The candidate said on Friday that his deployments are listed as “classified” and so would not appear on his official record.
His campaign said that while he was based in Qatar, he flew to other air bases — but it did not answer the AP’s direct question about whether he was ever in Afghanistan.
Military records show that Majewski lacks many of the medals that are typically awarded to those who served in Afghanistan — including the Combat Action Ribbon, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. The latter is issued to those who served 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days in that country; Majewski has publicly claimed he “went more than 40 days without a shower” while in Afghanistan.
The AP also looked into why Majewski, after four years, exited the service at a rank just one notch above where he started.
Majewski’s campaign said he was demoted in 2001 as part of a “nonjudicial punishment” after getting into a “brawl” in his dormitory. Nonjudicial punishments are designed to hold service members accountable for bad behavior that does not rise to the level of a court-martial, the AP said.
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