(WXYZ) — A Republican nominee for the Michigan House of Representatives faces backlash for comments he made about sexual assault and his daughters while discussing a possible decertification of the election.
Robert "RJ" Regan, a Republican who just won a special election to fill the Michigan House seat in District 74, made the comments while speaking on a Facebook Live for the Michigan Rescue Coalition.
While discussing a possible decertification, Regan said: "Having three daughters, I tell my daughters, 'If rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.'"
The comment drew a strong reaction from one of the other guests on the show, Amber Harris, who called Regan's comment "shameful."
Host Adam de Angeli pointed out that the show is "streaming on YouTube," then added: "probably not for much longer after what Robert said."
Reached by phone today, de Angelini said he believes Regan "misspoke," trying to say that not contesting the election would be like telling his daughters to lay back and enjoy rape.
"Maybe not the best analogy, but he was speaking extemporaneously," de Angeli said.
The host of the show, Adam de Angeli, tells me he believes Regan "misspoke," trying to say that not contesting the election *would be like* telling his daughters to lay back and enjoy rape.
"Maybe not the best analogy," de Angeli said, "but he was speaking extemporaneously." https://t.co/bIi48X2Emi
— Ross Jones (@rossjonesWXYZ) March 7, 2022
Regan did not respond to a call to his cell phone for comment but said in a text message that his remarks were taken out of context and used against him by a "leftist group doing what they do."
But even Republicans slammed Regan today, with Tori Sachs of the Michigan Freedom Fund issuing a blistering statement, also condemning his recent support for Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
"RJ Regan’s disgusting and dehumanizing comments on the horror of sexual assault along with his support of murderous dictator Vladimir Putin are despicable and completely disqualify him from holding public office," Sachs said. “I teach my four young daughters to stand up for themselves, to know their worth, and to fight back and speak out against creeps like Regan. RJ Regan doesn’t belong anywhere near the state Capitol, and that is why we endorsed and supported his opponent.”
Ironically, one of Regan’s most prominent opponents in his political career is one of his daughters.
When he ran for office two years ago, Regan's daughter Stephanie tweeted: “If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god, do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone.”
The tweet went viral, and Regan lost.
But in the current race, he is the presumptive favorite and will face a Democrat in a general election this May.
Michigan's 74th district is in Kent County in West Michigan.
Regan won the special election for the Republican nomination last week with 32.9% of the vote, beating the candidate in second place by 81 votes.
In 2020, Mark Huizenga won the seat with 63.1%.
In 2020, Regan's daughter urged people not to vote for her dad in a tweet that said, "if you're in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god, do not vote for my dad for state rep. tell everyone," according to The Hill.
On June 25, 2020, Regan addressed the tweet with a statement on his Facebook page that said in part, "I love all of my four children and only want what is best for them. We may not always agree on 'what is best' but, their best is my goal."
This isn't the first controversial thing Regan has said recently. Gongwer published a story Monday morning featuring posts from Regan where it appeared he backed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called it a "hoax."
We have reached out to the Michigan Republican Party for a statement. They congratulated Regan and two other Republicans in a tweet the day after the special election.
Regan will face Carol Glanville, a Democrat, in the special election for the seat on May 3.
"As a woman, human, and public servant, I am stunned that a person who wishes to hold public office would hold such beliefs," Glanville said in a statement. "I did not think I would need to clearly state on the campaign trail that rape is never inevitable, acceptable, or warranted and is the worst type of personal violation anyone could ever experience. In empathy and compassion, I stand with survivors everywhere while defending human rights."