In Arizona Congressional Bid, Ex-NFL Player’s Viral Campaign Ad Glorifies Gunning Down Democrats

Robed, hooded Klansmen stand in for Democrats in Jerone Davison's new campaign ad.
Robed, hooded Klansmen stand in for Democrats in Jerone Davison's new campaign ad. Jerone Davison for Congress

Congressional Republican candidate Jerone Davison prepares to gun down Ku Klux Klan members in his latest campaign advertisement released on Wednesday morning. The video portrays the Klansmen as Democrats.

Davison is a political newcomer and former running back for the Oakland Raiders, (now Las Vegas Raiders). His campaign is managed by Austin Steinbart, a.k.a. BabyQ, a QAnon influencer who claims to be from the future.

The team’s new ad quickly went viral on Twitter, amassing more than 1 million views in the first five hours, then doubling that amount in total views by the afternoon. Davison had fewer than 5,000 Twitter followers before the ad dropped, and the total increased to more than 8,700 over the next several hours.

The 51-year-old Republican is a Mississippi native who first came to the Valley to play football for Arizona State University. He fell in love with the area.

Since his NFL stint in the 1990s, Davison has worked as a pastor, author, and public speaker.

In the new ad called “Make Rifles Great Again,” a play on former President Donald Trump’s iconic slogan, a horde of pitchfork-wielding Klansmen advance violently toward Davison’s Tempe home.

Davison calmly sips from a star-spangled coffee mug before donning a pair of sleek Ray-Ban sunglasses and producing a tricked-out AR-15 rifle.

“When this rifle is the only thing standing between your family and a dozen angry Democrats in Klan hoods, you just might need that semiautomatic and all 30 rounds,” Davison says in the ad.

A single Klan hood floats ominously in the swimming pool in the final frames of the video.

While Second Amendment enthusiasts dubbed it “the best political ad ever,” replies to the ad on Twitter were largely critical.

“This is a disturbing gun-fetish fantasy and I hope it never comes to be reality,” notable Ubisoft game developer Dan Amrich tweeted.

Davison is vying to unseat incumbent Democratic Congressman Greg Stanton in Arizona’s new Congressional District 4, which includes Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Ahwatukee.

First, he’ll face four other lesser-known Republicans in the August 2 primary election. Polling data for the primary is not available.

Davison’s campaign believes he has a great chance to secure the GOP bid.

“We like to draw attention to the fact that the KKK was started by Democrats and is run by Democrats,” Steinbart, the campaign manager, told Phoenix New Times on Wednesday.

A 2020 fact check from USA Today revealed that the Democratic Party did not found the KKK, an apocryphal trope often regurgitated by the modern alt-right.

However, decades later, a Democrat splinter group that objected to the civil rights program of the Democratic Party led to a surge of KKK activity, including bombings of Black schools and churches and violence against Black and white activists in the south.

“When I grew up in the south, the KKK would be coming through, and everybody in our community would be scared and afraid, but I wasn’t afraid because my father had guns in the house and guns made me feel safe,” Davison told an alt-right blog on Wednesday morning. “The past is still relevant today because the Democrats are still terrorists.”

When he’s not claiming to be a time-traveling QAnon shaman, Steinbart has spent time in prison. In 2020, he was arrested on suspicion of using a synthetic, urine-filled penis to dodge drug tests. He was released last year after 225 days behind bars for leaking NFL players’ brain scans and medical records.

Davison also hid QAnon slogans on his campaign website.

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A suit-clad Jerone Davison prepares to fire back at KKK attackers in his most recent campaign ad.
Jerone Davison for Congress

“Political tensions are high,” Steinbart said. “Whether you are a liberal worried about getting attacked by alt-right militia or you’re on the right worried about getting attacked by BLM or Antifa, everyone is worried about their safety. We believe that if someone threatens you at your house, you should defend yourself.”

Pro-Second Amendment rhetoric is the keystone of Davison's campaign, but he’s also prioritizing criminal justice reform. He wants to curb prosecutorial overcharging and racial bias in the criminal justice system, objectives more commonly associated with the Democrats.

In fact, additional campaign ads planned for future dates are “not a very rah-rah Republican aesthetic,” Steinbart said.

Davison, who is Black, wants to “shake up traditional thinking in the Republican Party” by marrying conservative firearms ideals with a more progressive effort to curb institutional racism in Arizona, according to Steinbart.

“We’re really trying to connect with the Black community,” Steinbart said. “Black gun ownership is Black self-love.”

This story has been updated to correct the type of gun described in the video.

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Elias Weiss is a staff writer at the Phoenix New Times. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he reported first for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was editor of the Chatham Star-Tribune in Southern Virginia, where he covered politics and law. In 2020, the Virginia Press Association awarded him first place in the categories of Government Writing and Breaking News Writing for non-daily newspapers statewide.
Contact: Elias Weiss