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Jim Bob Duggar, the patriarch of the infamous Christian “quiverful” family, will not be an Arkansas State Senator next year. It turns out a campaign built on “family values” wasn’t a great selling point after his oldest son Josh was found guilty of receiving and possessing illicit images of child sexual abuse.

(via YouTube)

Duggar had announced his candidacy in late October, running as a Republican for a seat vacated by another Republican who resigned to take a job as a lobbyist. In his announcement, Duggar insisted that he would be a voice that’s “pro-family, pro-business, pro-gun and pro-life.” While there’s a very real irony in declaring yourself both “pro-life” and “pro-gun,” it was the “pro-family” bit that struck a nerve because the most prominent members of Duggar’s family were in the news for all the wrong reasons during the campaign.

His eldest daughter just got charged with child endangerment and faces up to 90 days in jail and/or fines. And she’s a golden child compared to Josh, who molested several of his sisters before the whole downloading scandal that resulted in a guilty verdict last week.

Besides the fame, though, Duggar did have one other thing going for him: He had been in office before. He served in the Arkansas State House from 1999 to 2003, before giving up that seat to run for U.S. Senate, where he was resoundingly defeated in the GOP primary. In 2006, he ran for State Senate, but lost in that Republican primary by a very slim margin. (That particular seat is currently held by fellow Christian zealot Jason Rapert.)

None of that seemed to matter on Tuesday. Now, just like one of his other sons, Jim Bob Duggar is once again a political loser.

Duggar earned only about 15% of the ballots — just 456 votes! — failing to place in the top two spots. Heading to a run-off election on January 11 will be Colby Fulfer (chief of staff for the city of Springdale), who just missed the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff, and Steve Unger (a retired U.S. Navy captain).

It’s almost incredible that Duggar failed as badly as he did despite the name recognition and social media reach. But when your name is already a punchline for All Things Awful, it’s almost quaint to see voters put governing experience over popularity. Not that any of these candidates are good for people. A Republican primary in Arkansas is not where you go to find people who care about lifting others up and legislating.

There’s another reason Duggar may have struggled to generate voter enthusiasm: His long-time family friend Jim Holt. Holt was so close to Jim Bob that his daughter was once engaged to Josh Duggar. That engagement fell apart, however, due to Josh’s “misbehavior.” Holt’s wife Bobye Holt even spoke out against Josh during his recent trial. And on Tuesday morning, just before people voted, Holt issued this statement on Facebook:

… I can say this, and it hurts me to say: Jim Bob Duggar lied to me about the truth of his son when asking to court our daughter. It was clear he perjured himself on the witness stand at the evidentiary hearing on November 29, 2021. He said that Mrs. Bobye was a past Elder at our church in the time frame of 2003-2006. Up until November 2006, the church never had women Elders. EVER. (I don’t know what his church does now…)

Jim Bob was always conservative in many areas when I served with him from 2001-2002. The problem I have is…

If he lied to his BEST FRIEND and he lied UNDER OATH, will he lie to YOU?

Nothing like some faith-based misogyny to undermine a faith-based Republican…

Duggar’s son-in-law Derick Dillard also chimed in to Holt’s post with some damning criticism:

It’s sad that this isn’t an isolated incident. I used to have much respect for Jim Bob, as my father-in-law, and I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt for years. Unfortunately, it’s only become clearer to us over time just how deep this man’s manipulation and deceit will go for his own gain, at the expense of others. He has lied to my wife and I numerous times. Contrary to his campaign, he does not believe in freedom, but his manipulation has resulted in what is akin to human trafficking. When confronted privately, he is not humble, but he is defensive and verbally abusive. When he says he cannot be bought, the truth is that he has a history of being a sellout to anything that he can personally profit from, and he will justify it however he wants to continue his personal agenda. Again, if he has lied and continues to lie to his best friends and his own family, will he LIE to YOU?!

Did all those comments make a difference in the race? It’s hard to say. But when there’s such low turnout that a few hundred votes can swing entire races, something like these statements are pretty big bombshells, especially when all these people exist in similar circles.

Duggar, by the way, spent a lot of money to earn those few votes that he got:

The Duggar campaign had spent $37,631 as of Monday while campaign revenue included $25,000 in loans from Duggar, the filings show.

The bulk of the Duggar campaign’s money spent so far — $25,835 — went to advertising with the rest going to other expenses such as the Republican Party’s $7,500 filing fee. His campaign had $21,875 in cash on hand Monday with $34,510 in contributions.

He spent $37,631 to get 456 votes — at least a good number of which presumably come from people who share his last name. That’s still about $82.52 per wasted vote!

Duggar understands money as well as he understands birth control.

He acknowledged the loss — and the circumstances around it — in a Facebook post Tuesday evening:

I want to thank those of you who voted for me, volunteered, contributed, and supported me in my race for Arkansas State Senate District 7. I am so honored to have been surrounded by some really great people in this campaign. It has been a difficult season for our family, so I am particularly grateful to those of you who have offered your prayers and encouragement. I love our country, our state, and our Northwest Arkansas community. I will always do all I can to help advance conservative candidates and causes.

Whatever eventually happens in this race, though, it’s bad news for Arkansas. The state could very soon be led by former Trump propaganda minister Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who’s running for governor) and Christian Nationalist State Senator Jason Rapert (who’s running for lieutenant governor). Republican lawmakers aren’t likely to challenge anything they do, and anything they do is bound to cause chaos because the GOP has no good ideas that are unique to their party. It’ll just be religious propaganda and culture war bullshit 24/7.

But at least Jim Bob Duggar will have to watch it all happen from the sidelines.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.