Delaware Online- Sarah Gamard
Two of Delaware's Republican leaders are under fire after posting comments on Facebook that fellow party members have deemed "homophobic" and "anti-Semitic."
New Castle County Republican Party Chairman Chris Rowe will resign this weekend for using the word "faggots" in a comment on a recent Facebook post. State GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady asked him to resign.
"I'm not apologizing," Rowe said Thursday of his use of the derogatory description for a homosexual man.
At the same time, Sussex County Republican Party Vice-Chairwoman Nelly Jordan is under fire for a Facebook post that her Republican colleagues have lambasted as derogatory against Jewish people.
"Many Jews 'In Name Only' lend themselves to be in the hoaks (sic) of the pure made up story of impeachment that the Democrats have woven," reads Jordan's Facebook post, which was emailed to The News Journal in a screenshot from the House Republican Caucus. "Fortunately for us the people that believe that God gave us a brain to think for ourselves can see through the madness these left socialist believers had concocted against a President ... God please have mercy on them, some of the Jewish people are doing today as it was in the times of the Old Testament, go against God's will even after He had mercy on them."
Jordan could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Brady issued a statement on Thursday saying that Jordan's words were "hurtful and anti-Semitic," and Rowe used "homophobic language." She said the Delaware Republican Party does not "condone any statements that demean or show disrespect to others."
The incidents come as the state's minority party, approaching the 2020 election, has marketed a brand of inclusiveness in an attempt to grow its base and gain at least two seats in the state Senate.
Jordan will have to choose whether to resign or go through a "process to seek her removal" because she, unlike Rowe, was elected and not appointed to her position, Brady wrote in her statement on Thursday.
"Once that process is complete, they (Sussex GOP leadership) will make a decision on whether she'll remain in her position or move on to a different position," Sussex GOP spokesman Hylton Phillips-Page said. "We feel she should be given due process."
It's unclear when that review process will happen, but it could happen "fairly quickly," Phillips-Page said.
Rowe would not comment on Jordan's post, only calling her a "gentle and kind woman."
Rowe defended his use of the word "faggot," saying it was part of a conversation with a "Close male friend." He said he used the word "in anger" solely toward Facebook for restricted access to a video. He said his use of the word wasn't "belittling anybody for their sexual preference," but "that doesn't stop people from getting upset, triggered."
"I have been using that word since before it ever meant what people are offended by today," Rowe wrote in a post from the GOP's official Facebook page on Wednesday, adding that he has been "instrumental in bringing gay candidates into this upcoming election."
"I am not a Homophobe nor have an ounce of bigotry in my blood," the post reads. "It was locker room talk between 2 men."
Rowe said he will release a video this weekend talking about his use of the word.
Rowe became the county GOP chairman in June. Before taking the job, he spent part of last year lobbying against gun control legislation pushed by the state Democratic Party.
Delaware House Republicans have also asked for Rowe and Jordan to "immediately issue an apology and step down from their leadership roles."
"If they remain unwilling to do so, action should be taken to remove them from their posts," reads a Facebook post issued by the caucus. "Derogatory references to sexual orientation and religious affiliation should play no role in the civil discussion of public policy and our party’s political positions."
Eric Morrison, an openly gay 2020 Democratic candidate for a New Castle statehouse district, challenged Rowe about his use of the word. In a post on Wednesday, Morrison shared screenshots of his and Rowe's Facebook Messenger conversation.
The screenshots show Rowe writing to Morrison: "I do not use it in the sense you do. I carry no shame. ... Sorry your timidity at words has your silk knickers in a twist."
Morrison has regularly performed as a female impersonator.
"He's a drag queen, so that's why I said that," Rowe said on Thursday, when The News Journal read the quote back to him. "So?"
The state Democratic Party also condemned Rowe and Jordan's social media posts.
"For three years while President Trump has spewed similarly vile and divisive rhetoric, they've been silent," Democratic Party chairman Erik Raser-Schramm said in a statement, referring to Republican Party members.
The GOP imbroglio comes at the same time as one Democratic lawmaker faces his own mea culpa. In an email on Wednesday that made its way to The News Journal's inbox, Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, hurled insults at prominent Democratic officials, lobbyists and businesses, in handling Delaware's minimum wage, which he wants to be higher.
He repeatedly said to "eff" those entities, presumably using the term as an abbreviation for a much stronger profanity.
"Eff the Chamber of Commerce and the Restaurant Industry and the Caesar Rodney Institute and every one of those immoral and conscienceless subhuman pols who circulate that utter bullshit story of increased layoffs, job-losses and higher prices.," Kowalko wrote. "Eff every business that claims it cannot survive if forced to pay a fair wage. They obviously have no business acumen or are producing/selling crap products or services."
"Oh, by the way have a Happy New Year all of you selfish bastards out there," he added.
About three hours later, the Democrat sent another email apologizing for the tirade.
"My frustrations, disappointments and anger seem to have gotten the best of my judgement and the resulting language I chose to use was inexcusably harsh and petty," he wrote.