Oath Keepers' Son Running as a Long-Shot Democrat

Dakota Adams, son of Stewart Rhodes, seeks a seat in Montana legislature
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2024 1:55 PM CDT
Oath Keepers' Son Running as a Long-Shot Democrat
Dakota Adams poses for a photograph during an interview on Feb. 21, 2024, in Kalispell, Montana. Adams, the estranged son of Oath Keepers founder and imprisoned seditionist Stewart Rhodes, is running for the legislature in Montana as a Democrat.   (AP Photo/Hunter D'Antuono)

The eldest son of one of America's most infamous seditionists is building a new life since breaking free from his father's control—juggling work, college classes, and volunteer firefighting. And Dakota Adams has tossed one more ball in the air this year: a Democratic campaign for Montana's Legislature. He also plans to sell the rifles, body armor, and tactical gear he used to wear to anti-government protests alongside his father—Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers. It's all part of an effort to push away the last vestiges of what Adams, 27, describes as an isolating and abusive upbringing that nearly ruined him, his mother, and his siblings, per the AP.

Adams describes his childhood as "one continuous gray time of survival and moving boxes," in an interview. "We lived in extreme isolation in one particular cultural bubble in increasingly paranoid and militant right-wing political spheres everywhere we moved in the country, until eventually we ended up in Montana." Adams, who uses his mother's maiden name, knows it won't be easy running as a Democrat for the House in the deep red northwestern corner of Montana. The district covers northern Lincoln County, a mecca for militia members or sympathizers and doomsday preppers. Donald Trump won 74% of the county vote in the 2020 presidential race.

While Adams' campaign may look like a fruitless undertaking, he doesn't see it that way. For him it's a chance to tell his own story—that of an "honest weirdo" who emerged from a traumatic childhood to find his own way in life. "Regardless of what happens, I'm trying again," Adams said. "I think this is going to be a lifelong thing." Rhodes is now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol that sought to keep Trump in power. Rhodes declined through his attorney to comment on Adams' story. (Read the full AP profile of Adams.)

(More Oath Keepers stories.)

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