The daughter of a candidate running for a seat in the Michigan state House has drawn viral attention online after taking to Twitter earlier this week to plead with voters not to elect her father to office.
In the viral tweet, which has racked up more than 159,000 likes in the past two days, Stephanie Regan, the daughter of Republican state House candidate Robert Regan, writes, “If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone.”
In a pair of tweets the day after, Stephanie wrote that her father was Robert Regan and called on voters to research his campaign, writing: “I don’t feel safe rn sharing further information regarding his beliefs, but please look him up and just read for yourself.”
Stephanie Regan confirmed her identity to the website the Daily Dot. The Hill has reached out to her for comment.
Regan addressed his daughter's tweets in a lengthy statement posted to Facebook on Thursday afternoon, saying in part, "I am happy that she feels confident enough in our relationship to express her opposing thoughts so publicly" while encouraging her and others to voice their own opinions.
The candidate told The Hill on Thursday when reached for comment that he was not completely surprised by his daughter's words given their disagreements over issues like systemic racism, the existence of white privilege and Black Lives Matter.
“A lot of students when they go off to these liberal university campuses, like the University of Colorado, the University of Texas and Austin — and she went to the University of Colorado in Boulder — and you know, they just kind of get sucked into this Marxist, communist ideology and she and I just don’t see eye to eye when it comes to the whole socialism, communism, Marxist philosophy,” he said.
When asked what he thinks could have prompted his daughter to ask people not to vote for him, Regan said “her big thing has to do with the systemic racism that’s going on in the country.”
“She’s a big believer in that,” he continued, while adding, “The only place where I really see systemic racism would be the abortion clinic cause they seem to target the African American community.”
“I don’t buy into this whole systemic racism thing at all,” he later said.
“I’m not saying there’s not hurdles to overcome. We all have hurdles to overcome. You know, as a quote-unquote rich, white, Christian male, people look at me a certain way. And it’s not always good. So, everybody has obstacles to overcome,” he also said, while adding he thinks President Trump has "done more for the black community than any president we’ve had in the last 20 years."
The state House candidate added when discussing his and his daughter’s political differences that on a scale of 1-10, “I’m like the right wing, a 10, and she’s like a zero.”
He also said, unlike his daughter, he doesn’t believe white privilege exists and said he thinks their differing opinions on the matter could have also prompted her tweet.
Regan said his daughter recently sent him an article about the topic but he said “there’s no scientific data behind it.”
“It’s like, really?” he said. “A known fact like man-made global warming? No, these things are debatable all day long. We need to have a debate.”
A number of lawmakers and advocates have pointed to racial disparities seen in areas like health, incarceration and the economy recently amid rolling demonstrations against racial injustice across the country.
The Pew Research Center said in a report in May that Black Americans “remain far more likely than their Hispanic and white counterparts to be in prison,” even as it found the rate of imprisonment among the racial group has decreased at record levels.
The White House also acknowledged earlier this year that African Americans were dying of COVID-19 at disproportionate rates in the country amid the ongoing pandemic, with Trump vowing then to do “everything in our power to address this challenge.”
Regan said in the interview Thursday that although he and his daughter haven’t spoken since her recent tweets, he was “happy that she’s willing to speak out and express her opinion on things.” He also noted that he has received supportive messages from others since the tweets went viral.
Stephanie Regan in her follow-up tweets urged followers to research her father's campaign positions. Among the issues listed on his campaign page, there is one section advocating for making “English the official language in Michigan,” another calling for the restoration of a “constitutional Militia to the state of Michigan” and others spanning topics like immigration and abortion restrictions.
On his Twitter page, Regan has also shared tweets labelling Black Lives Matter a “Marxist” group and expressed support for the “Thin Blue Line,” a reference to the police, as protests against racism and police brutality have continued in parts of the country following the police-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans.
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Robert Regan in the interview Thursday invoked biblical scripture while likening the situation with his daughter to the "prodigal son," with the father figure "always standing at the doorstep waiting for his son to return.”
“But I always just drop a line in the water and send them a card,” Regan said about his four children. He emphasized that he doesn't “hold any animosity" toward his daughter following her tweets.
Regan is one of three Republicans running to represent District 73 in the Michigan state House. The seat is currently being held by state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R), who is running this year to unseat Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.).