This Oklahoma city elected a commissioner with white nationalist ties. Will voters recall him from office?

BREAKING: Voters of Enid, Oklahoma, have chosen to recall Judd Blevins, a Republican city commissioner with white nationalist ties, according to unofficial results posted to the state election board website. Cheryl Patterson, also a Republican, will now fill the seat.

ENID, Okla. — More than a year after voting in a city commissioner with white nationalist ties, residents of a city in Oklahoma will head to the polls to decide whether to remove him.

Judd Blevins is facing a recall election in Enid, Oklahoma, a deeply conservative city of 50,000 people, after residents discovered his affiliation with a white nationalist hate group. Blevins served as a recruiter for Identity Evropa, the local newspaper reported weeks before residents voted him into office for a four-year term. The white nationalist group later disbanded and rebranded as “identitarians.”

Residents have since questioned Blevins’ involvement in other groups. The Enid Social Justice Committee, which formed after Blevins’ election in February 2023, gathered the necessary signatures to initiate a recall petition late last year. Blevins, who has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations about his role for Identity Evropa, has likened the recall effort to a “smear campaign.”

“I’ve never identified as a white nationalist or a white supremacist,” he said at a forum this week.

In the April 2 election, voters will choose between Blevins and Republican Cheryl Patterson, the only other person challenging him for the seat. The winner will fill the remainder of the term.

In the forum, Blevins was asked about his participation at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. A picture of him there, holding a tiki torch, has become a symbol of the recall movement.

“I felt it was important to protest the removal of statues of American soldiers,” he said. “Historical Americans is important to me. It’s our history. It’s our heritage. It’s who we are.”

For Enid residents Connie Vickers and Nancy Presnall, this vote isn’t about race, gender or even party affiliation, as both candidates are Republicans.

“This is about a Nazi v. not a Nazi,” Vickers said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Who is Judd Blevins, and how is he connected to white nationalism?


Blevins, a City Council member in Enid, Oklahoma, fields questions about his connections to white nationalist groups ahead of an April 2 recall election that could remove him from office as commissioner. The still is from a live stream of the forum. Image courtesy of The Enid News & Eagle

Blevins, a Marine Corps veteran, works as the operations manager for his family’s construction business. City council races are non-partisan in Oklahoma, but his campaign heavily touted his hard-right Republican credentials. Enid, about an hour-and-a-half drive north of Oklahoma City, is home to Vance Air Force Base. As a candidate, Blevins stressed an interest in growing Enid’s businesses and promised to help incentivize young citizens to stay in the city.

The Enid News & Eagle first reported Blevins’ suspected ties to white nationalism. The newspaper resurfaced an article published by Right Wing Watch, a research project from the nonprofit advocacy group People for the American Way that’s dedicated to monitoring far-right activities. The article accused Blevins of serving as the Oklahoma state coordinator for Identity Evropa, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a white nationalist organization. Identity Evropa was established in 2016 and rebranded as the American Identity Movement in 2019. It disbanded the following year.

Blevins did not respond to the article, but released a statement after the story was published, calling the newspaper a “George Soros funded leftist outlet.”

Then, there was the photo.

Vickers and Presnall, along with other residents, discovered an online image of Blevins holding a tiki torch and joining hundreds of men at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Weeks before Blevins was elected, the two friends confronted him after a candidate forum. Presnall said they approached Blevins to ask about the reports that he was a part of white supremacist groups.

“He was gracious and said, ‘Those are all distortions and fake news,’” Presnall said.

Vickers then unsheathed a blown-up image of what appears to be Blevins, a lit torch in hand.

“So this isn’t you?” Vickers recalled asking. “He didn’t like that and then he stalked off.”

Blevins would go on to win his election against incumbent Jerry Allen two weeks later by 36 votes. He took office in May 2023, but the question of how Blevins was tied to white nationalist groups and his refusal to clarify whether he was or is a member of those groups have dogged him since, leading to a petition for a recall election.

The Enid Social Justice Committee, citing reporting from Right Wing Watch, said Blevins recruited Oklahomans to join a neo-Nazi group. Right Wing Watch’s report attributed more than 1,000 leaked chat room messages to Blevins.

“My personal opinion is Nazis shouldn’t be making public policy,” Kristi Balden, Enid resident and member of the Enid Social Justice Committee, told KWTV.

At the forum, Blevins denied that he took part in white nationalist chat groups. He also said it was important for him to be in Charlottesville and march in the rally to protest the removal of Confederate statues and to push back against “anti-white hatred.”

Pete Simi, a professor of sociology at Chapman University, said this term has become more common among white supremacist groups, which have become more savvy with their labeling and branding. Simi, who has studied the rise of white supremacy in American politics since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, said white supremacists were emboldened after the 2016 election of Donald Trump. To a general audience, they’ve started to use terms like “white nationalist” and frame their work as fighting anti-white hatred.

“None of these folks would really identify or use those terms,” Simi said. “There’s a kind of consistent disavowal that’s happening and that’s also part of their strategy. You want to try and present yourself and use terms that are going to be more appealing to a broader swath of the population. It sounds less threatening, more innocuous.”

At a candidate forum a week before the recall election, Blevins was asked if he would denounce white nationalists or their agenda.

“I can’t renounce things that I never was, but again, I’m opposed to all forms of racial hate and racial discrimination,” he said.

Blevins was also asked why one of his biggest campaign donors, a man from Texas with ties to white nationalist groups, donated $1,944 to his campaign. The moderator asked if that was a reference to World War II and the Holocaust.

“He told me he took it out of his Bitcoin account,” Blevins said. “He’s a friend of mine. It’s not a crime to have a friend who has money. What he does to earn a living is entirely up to him.”

Who led the effort to recall Blevins?

Though Blevins took office in May, weeks after his ties to white nationalism emerged, the Enid Social Justice Committee had to wait to take formal action.

Under Oklahoma law, a city commissioner must be in office for six months before a recall election can be sought. By the fall, organizers for the group went door to door collecting signatures. There were 808 votes cast in last year’s election. The signature requirement to initiate a recall is 30 percent of those votes — in this case, at least 243 signatures. They received nearly 350.

The group said it launched the petition to “correct a grievous error.”

Balden, the group’s chair, said Ward 1 residents weren’t informed about who Blevins was and that voters deserved to make a new decision on him.

“I struggle with terms like ‘allegedly’ because I feel like the ties have been verified and that he’s had six months to deny these associations and these ties,” Balden told the News & Eagle.

Members of the Enid Social Justice Committee wrote a letter to Blevins in November, offering a “last chance” to acknowledge hate groups, renounce them and apologize for anyone hurt by them.

Blevins refused.

At the open forum this week, Blevins said he was told by his own constituents that they were proud that he had stood up to the pressures and had not backed down to the “leftist mob.”

“I chose to put my future in the hands of voters and let them decide,” Blevins said.

The commissioner then mentioned Enid Mayor David Mason, a Republican who has said he wants Blevins out.

“The mayor of Enid wants politics as usual and I don’t fit into his plan,” he said. “Yes, Enid does matter but its future and Enid’s children matter the most.”

Local elections and a larger white supremacist movement


Candidates for city commissioner spoke inside the downtown arena in Enid, Oklahoma, ahead of an April recall election for Judd Blevins, a Republican who has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations about his role for Identity Evropa. Photo by Adam Kemp/PBS NewsHour

Enid is the largest city in Garfield County, which Donald Trump won by a 75-22 margin in 2020.

The News & Eagle published an editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016, saying the Republican presidential candidate lacked “the skills, experience or temperament to hold office.” It was a rare endorsement of a Democrat for president from the paper. The response from the community was swift. Hundreds canceled their subscriptions to the paper. The New York Times covered the fallout.

In years since, there have been efforts to ban LGBTQ+ books and programs at libraries, while queer students say attitudes toward their community have been openly hostile.

A woman in Hunter, Oklahoma, a town in the same county as Enid, was shot multiple times in 2020 after she attempted to steal a Nazi flag that was flying in the yard of a local man named Alexander John Feaster.

Some of Blevins’ supporters include Wade Burleson, the former pastor of one of Enid’s largest churches and ex-president of the Southern Baptists of Oklahoma. After the initial report from the local paper on Blevins’ ties to white nationalist groups, Burleson took to his Facebook page to defend him.

“Judd loves Jesus and his country, and he has not one racist bone in his body,” Burleson wrote. “Judd, wear this news article as a badge of honor.”

In a recent letter to the editor of the News & Eagle, several readers wrote in support of Blevins.

Simi believes Blevins represents a larger movement by white supremacists to win local elections and create a “white ethnostate.” Simi said getting involved in local school boards, and running for local offices are the kinds of ideas that create “grassroots energy” championed by prominent white nationalist figures like conservative strategist Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer, who led the torch-carrying crowd in Charlottesville.

“[People like Bannon and Spencer] promote a lot of this kind of far-right ideology and these agendas,” Simi said. “They have made a big point of emphasizing the importance of going at the local level and really working at that in terms of building that kind of momentum that’s needed to really, what they call, ‘deconstruct society.’”

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism tracked a 38 percent increase in white supremacist propaganda efforts nationwide in 2022. More than 100 candidates promoted extreme views, were associated with extremists, or promoted potentially dangerous conspiracy theories.

Simi said the gravest danger that Blevins represents is the normalization of white supremacy that comes with the racist ideology.

“This normalization makes it that much more difficult to achieve a more inclusive and just democracy,” he said.

After taking questions for more than 90 minutes in the candidate forum, Blevins gave his closing remarks, saying he hoped people would “just give him a chance” to prove himself as city commissioner.

As he left the stage, members of the Enid Social Justice Committee followed, asking more about his history.

“Are you associated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front?” the Rev. Fr. James Neal asked.

“You’ve made your point, James,” Blevins said, throwing up his arms.

Blevins exited the building, jogged across the street to his pickup and drove away.

The questions remained, unanswered.