WASHINGTON — Campaigning for a northwestern Ohio congressional seat, Republican J.R. Majewski presents himself as an Air Force combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, once describing “tough” conditions including a lack of running water that forced him to go more than 40 days without a shower.
Military documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request tell a different story.
They indicate Majewski never deployed to Afghanistan but instead completed a six-month stint helping to load planes at an air base in Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally that is a safe distance from the fighting.
Majewski’s account of his time in the military is just one aspect of his biography that is suspect. His post-military career has been defined by exaggerations, conspiracy theories, talk of violent action against the U.S. government and occasional financial duress.
Still, thanks to an unflinching allegiance to former President Donald Trump — Majewski once painted a massive Trump mural on his lawn — he also stands a chance of defeating longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in a district recently redrawn to favor Republicans.
Majewski is among a cluster of GOP candidates, most running for office for the first time, whose unvarnished life stories and hard-right politics could diminish the chances of a Republican “red wave” on Election Day in November. He is also a vivid representation of a new breed of politicians who reject facts as they try to emulate Trump.
“It bothers me when people trade on their military service to get elected to office when what they are doing is misleading the people they want to vote for them,” Don Christensen, a retired colonel and former chief prosecutor for the Air Force, said of Majewski. “Veterans have done so much for this country and when you claim to have done what your brothers and sisters in arms actually did to build up your reputation, it is a disservice.”
Majewski’s campaign declined to make him available for an interview and, in a lengthy statement issued to the AP, did not directly address questions about his claim of deploying to Afghanistan. A spokeswoman declined to provide additional comment when the AP followed up with additional questions.