He said he was ashamed of storming the Capitol. He is now running for office.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — More than two years after Elias Irizarry breached the U.S. Capitol with other Trump supporters, he wrote a letter to Judge Tanya Chutkan while she waited for her to determine his sentence.

“I want to be clear that I am not writing to make excuses or defend my actions,” he told Chutkan of the U.S. District Court in Washington. “My participation in an event like January 6 brought great shame to myself, my family and, unfortunately, my country. »

Now, Irizarry, a recent graduate of Citadel, South Carolina’s famed military college, is mounting a major challenge to a Republican in the state House of Representatives. His website recently cited his prosecution for participating in “nonviolent activities” at the Capitol on January 6 as proof that he has “always defended the conservative movement.”

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“At every pivotal moment of the America First movement,” the website said, “Elias has been there.”

The reference to January 6 disappeared from the website after The New York Times discussed it with Irizarry’s federal public defender. In a text message Sunday evening, Irizarry said he initially mentioned his involvement in the Jan. 6 riots on his website bio “for the sake of transparency.”

Irizarry declined interview requests, but much of his story is detailed in his court filing.

He was 19 when he entered the Capitol through a broken window, wearing a red MAGA hat and carrying a metal pole. Since then, Chutkan, Republican politicians in South Carolina and the Citadel have wondered whether he deserves reproach or redemption — a question posed, in one way or another, to many of the more than 1,200 Americans accused of participating in January 6 attack.

Elias Irizarry was convicted for his participation in the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. (Photo: FBI)

In South Carolina’s primaries Tuesday, the question will go to voters in the state’s House District 43, a rural area so conservative that Democrats are not fielding a candidate in the general election. Two years ago, the incumbent, state Rep. Randy Ligon, faced a primary challenger who called him “RINO Randy Ligon.” Ligon won by just 139 votes; this year, this challenger supported Irizarry.

Perhaps more importantly, Irizarry appears to have bet that primary voters would view his federal conviction for trespassing as a badge of honor. Some clearly do.

On Wednesday evening, Grant Martin, 72, a retired real estate manager from Richburg, South Carolina, said he had not yet researched the race. But he said that given Irizarry’s participation in the riot, “I would be more inclined to vote for him.”

“If I could have, I would have been there,” Martin said of the Jan. 6 attack.

Although many Republican leaders denounced the attack in the immediate aftermath, former President Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, recently sought to rename the…

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