The Wisconsin businessman lost a Breitbart-hyped Republican primary race against House Speaker Paul Ryan by 70 points. Like many Trump imitators, he was able to run on a nationalist platform without replicating the president’s political talents. This has generally resulted in defeat. Even Trump ultimately endorsed Ryan in this particular race.
Now Nehlen is back again. Since then, he has traveled in a more extreme — many say bigoted — direction. Whether this further diminishes him as an insurgent candidate and political gadfly or gives him a new, more Richard Spencer-like avenue of influence remains to be seen.
Trump can’t be blamed for Nehlen’s flirtations with the alt-right. Breitbart has distanced itself. But Nehlen grabbed the “MAGA” megaphone long before engaging in his current extracurricular activities and could cause persistent headaches for the very people who put him on the map in the first place.