A Republican Senate candidate in Missouri landed himself in hot water on Tuesday for posting an anti-feminist screed on Facebook, in which he condemned "nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils" and "gender-bending word games by a goofy nest of drugstore academics." Other than a man who disapproves of feminism, who is Courtland Sykes?
Sykes is running in the GOP Senate primary for a chance to go head-to-head against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in November. He's presented himself as a Donald Trump-style Republican — a populist outsider who will fight illegal immigration, build a border wall between the United States and Mexico, and be "the most pro-gun and anti-regulation Senator in U.S. history." His website states, "I totally oppose gun control."
If elected, Sykes vows to spend as much time fighting moderate Republicans as Democrats. His press materials contain numerous references to Trump and "the swamp," Trump's favorite pejorative for Washington, D.C. politicians.
"If you like President Trump, then you and I see eye-to-eye," Sykes proclaims in one of his campaign ads. "That man you voted for, Donald J. Trump? He's got your back, and he works every day. No agenda — just what's best for you and me. What's best for America. And he's being blocked in every direction by the swamp in Washington."
Trump, however, has endorsed one of Sykes' Republican opponents, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, in the GOP primary.
According to his official campaign website, Sykes enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the attacks of Sept. 11, where he served as an intelligence analyst and diplomatic envoy to the U.S. Embassy in Panama. After leaving the military in 2011, he obtained an ALB in government from Harvard Extension School. At Harvard, he became engaged to Chanel Rion, who's now his fiancée.
What Sykes' official website doesn't mention is that he's actually from Arkansas, and has been a permanent resident of Missouri for less than a year, making him a bona fide carpetbagger. Republican leaders in Missouri told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they knew nothing about Sykes, the Kansas City Star reported that it was "unable to find much evidence of Sykes’ ties to Missouri," other than a business filing he made in February. He told the Post-Dispatch that his family used to vacation in the Ozarks, a popular destination in Missouri, but wouldn't say where.
According to the Star, Sykes' LinkedIn page initially described him as a graduate student at London University; however, Sykes then told the Star that he had completed only a semester of online courses at the school before "putting that on hold" to focus on his Senate candidacy. Shortly after that, the Star reported, London University was removed from the "Education" section of Sykes' LinkedIn page. As of this writing, that page now states that he received an MA from the university, suggesting that he did finish his studies there. Bustle has reached out to Sykes' campaign for clarification about his studies at London University.
Sykes drew little attention outside of Missouri before Tuesday, when he published his statement on women's rights.
"I want to come home to a home-cooked dinner at six every night," Sykes said in the post. "I don't buy into radical feminism's crazed definition of womanhood and I never did." He added that feminists created that definition "to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads."
The statement on feminism that Sykes posted on Tuesday is actually from an interview he gave in September to the Post-Dispatch, which was only partially released at the time. When the newspaper showed that statement to John Messmer, a political science professor at St. Louis Community College, Messmer said although he was "99.9 percent sure it’s not parody," Sykes' statement could also be "one of the greatest examples of political performance art I’ve ever seen."