The Chatter: House GOP candidate unapologetic over "outrageous" Facebook posts, mystery website hitting Gov. Bevin

09/30/2016 02:06 PM

A Republican candidate for the state’s House of Representatives isn’t backing down from offensive imagery posted to his Facebook page.

WDRB-TV reported Thursday that Dan Johnson, who’s looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Linda Belcher in the 49th House District, had numerous photos on his social media page with racial and anti-Islamic undertones, such as one featuring President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama with ape-like features and another calling for states to ban the practice of Islam.

Johnson denied being a racist when asked about his Facebook activity.

From WDRB:

“It wasn’t meant to be racist. I can tell you that. My history’s good there. I can see how people would be offended in that. I wasn’t trying to offend anybody, but, I think Facebook’s entertaining,” Johnson said.

When pressed, Johnson would not acknowledge that the images crossed the line. He calls it satire.

“I looked this up. There has been no president that hasn’t had that scrutiny. Not one. I think it would be racist not to do the same for President Obama as we’ve done for every other president.”

The posts prompted Kentucky Democratic Party Chairwoman Sannie Overly to call on Johnson to end his candidacy.

“Racism does not deserve a slap on the wrist or a second chance,” Overly said in the report. “The Kentucky Republican Party Chairman has called these comments outrageous and that they ‘represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society’, and I agree.”

Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown called Johnson’s social media activities “outrageous and have no place in today’s political discourse.”

“They represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society and do not in any way, shape or form represent the views of the Republican Party of Kentucky or the many fine candidates representing us on the ballot this November,” Brown said in the report. “I want to apologize to the members of Kentucky’s African-American community and assure them that this man’s opinions do not reflect those of this Party.”

Bevin focus of website, video

An unknown group is attacking Gov. Matt Bevin, juxtaposing his inaugural address with claims that he pulled the plug on an $11 million project in retaliation against a Democratic lawmaker who declined GOP overtures to switch parties, The Courier-Journal reports.

Therealmattbevin.com features a three-minute video that borrows heavily from Bevin’s inauguration, particularly moments when he urges unity.

It also details Democratic Rep. Russ Meyer’s account of unsuccessful Republican attempts to persuade him to join their party, including a phone message left by Bevin in which the governor says he’s disappointed “by some of what I’m hearing” and wants to make Meyer, D-Nicholasville, aware of impending decisions and “the impacts of those decisions will be as it relates to you, your seat, your district, et cetera, just so we have all the cards on the table.”

Bevin’s office has said the road project, an expansion of East Brannon Road in Jessamine County, was delayed due to right-of-way and utility issues, and that the voice message left for Meyer was cordial.

Danny Briscoe, a consultant for Meyer, told the newspaper that he wants the video removed.

“Who would produce such a lengthy and poorly produced and poorly edited piece of crap?” he said in the report. “… We’re running against an incompetent guy the Republican Party should be embarrassed to put forward as a candidate. Not against the governor of Kentucky.”

The website and video give no indication who is responsible for the material. It comes days after the Republican Party of Kentucky launched a similarly titled website, www.therealgregstumbo.com.

Daniel Kemp, spokesman for KDP, told Pure Politics that the Democratic Party didn’t produce the website or video. A domain search revealed only that www.therealmattbevin.com had been registered through Go Daddy by Domains By Proxy LLC.

$4.6 million SEEK shortfall will get filled

After the Bevin administration signaled that it would approve an updated request to cover a $4.6 million shortfall in the state’s Supporting Education Excellence in Kentucky program, the Kentucky Department of Education wasted little time in submitting one.

Reports indicate that KDE requested the additional dollars on Thursday, a day after House Democrats urged Bevin to send more money to SEEK as required under the current budget.

Bevin’s office has said KDE asked for the money under the previous budget, which provides more discretionary language, and spokesman Garry Gupton told The Courier-Journal that the administration had been meeting with KDE about the issue the morning of House Democrats’ news conference.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.

TWEETS ABOUT KENTUCKY POLITICS