Published: April 28, 2016
A Luzerne County Republican committeeman who describes himself as a “white rights advocate” won another term in Tuesday’s primary election and also said he voted for Donald Trump for president.
Steven Smith, a Pittston resident who insists he’s not a racist or white supremacist, said Trump “put immigration into the forefront of his candidacy” when explaining his vote for Trump.
Smith was the only candidate on the ballot for two Republican committeeman positions in Pittston’s first ward. Smith got 70 votes, and there were four write-in votes, according to unofficial election results on the county website.
The Luzerne County Republican Committee engages in political activities and is not a public or government agency. Committee Chairman Bill Urbanski said the party can’t stop Smith from being a committeeman.
“There’s no mechanism for that,” Urbanski said. “That’s how it goes.”
The party elects two committee members from each of Luzerne County’s 180 voting precincts. Only 67 candidates were on Tuesday’s ballot for those positions.
Smith was elected as a committeeman four years ago with one write-in vote. Smith said he was appointed as secretary for the committee’s third district and is responsible for meeting minutes.
The term for an elected Republican committee member is four years.
Urbanski said Smith has no influence in the party.
“I don’t agree with 95 percent of what the guy stands for,” Urbanski said. “He should be registered with the American Nazi Party.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, noted Smith’s election as Republican committeeman in a news release.
“With Trump winning by such a large margin in Luzerne County, unfortunately it is not surprising that Steve Smith, somebody with a long history of violence and activity with well-known racist and neo-Nazi groups, won the local Republican committee seat,” SPLC’s Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich said in a statement.
Trump won Pennsylvania’s Republican primary with 57 percent of the vote statewide. He won 77 percent of the vote in Luzerne County, Trump’s best showing in any county in the state.
Smith, 45, is a truck driver, according to election records. He is founder of the European American Action Coalition. The organization “fights for the interests of Whites,” its website says.
“We believe in grassroots activity that includes getting involved in the local political process,” the website says. “We currently have one openly pro-White elected Republican Party Committeeman in our ranks and it is our goal to have many more elected officials in the future.”
Smith said he attended Trump’s campaign rally Monday night in Wilkes-Barre Township. About 10,000 people were inside the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the event.
“It was quite the spectacle,” Smith said. “It was like going to a rock concert. That place was packed.”
In Smith’s precinct in Pittston, 149 Republicans voted Tuesday, and 120 voted for Trump, records show.
“There are flaws with Trump,” Smith said. “But the fact that he’s a self-made millionaire not controlled by establishment, it makes him resonate with people.”
In 2003, Smith pleaded guilty to ethnic intimidation and simple assault, both misdemeanors, and received a prison sentence of one to 12 months, court records show. During an interview in 2012, Smith said he spent two months in prison.
“The Cultural Marxists like to bring up my arrest on March 23, 2003, as an attempt to try to discredit me,” Smith wrote in a blog on the European American Action Coalition website.
According to a 2003 account in The Times-Tribune, Smith and two other members of the Keystone State Skinheads had bricks, called a black man by a derogatory name and asked the man if he had ever “got beat up by a skinhead.” The man ran, so the group drove by him in a vehicle, yelling racial slurs, and a brick was thrown at the black man, according to the account.
“He wasn’t even touched,” Smith said in 2012, explaining the incident in Scranton was the result of “drunken stupidity.”
In the blog post, Smith wrote he did not personally “verbally threaten nor attempt to physically harm” the black man.
“On my lawyer’s advice and the fact that a trial would have cost me thousands of dollars in legal fees, I pleaded guilty … Personally, I think I was sentenced harshly for my politics more than anything else,” he wrote
After Smith’s election in 2012, then-Committee Chairman Terry Casey issued a statement denouncing Smith’s “abhorrent views” and said the party was researching whether it could oust Smith from the committee.
“He’s an idiot. He’s a white coward,” Smith said of Casey on Thursday.