GOP disavows candidate over inflaming posts
Republican leaders are frantically backpedaling away from the party’s candidate in a key Central Valley congressional race in reaction to a second report that his social media accounts formerly contained antiMuslim, antiimmigrant and conspiracy theory messages.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday pulled its endorsement of Ted Howze, who will face Democratic Rep. Josh Harder of Turlock (Stanislaus County) in the November election, and GOP leaders had harsh words for the messages that had been deleted.
Among them was a post on Howze’s Facebook page in September 2016 that said, “The Western world and Christian Nations should all be suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS! They obviously cannot be both ‘good’ Muslims and good Americans,” Politico reported Wednesday.
A post in June 2016 signed, “Ted Howze, American Citizen,” said thenPresident Barack Obama “puts the welfare of foreign Muslims ahead of his
own citizens,” and that “it is time to arrest and charge Barrack (sic) Obama with TREASON!”
Other posts included a charge that Bill and Hillary Clinton left “a trail of bodies as long as the Mississippi behind them,” and one that compared the “Dreamers” — young people brought into the U.S. illegally as children years ago and currently allowed to stay in the country — to pedophiles: “Sure they understand that pedophiles are ‘dreamers’ too,” the post read.
Howze, a veterinarian and former Turlock councilman, finished second to Harder in the March primary. He also ran in the 2018 primary in the same congressional district, and deleted the posts the day he entered that race, Politico reported.
Howze finished third in the primary that year to Harder and thenGOP Rep. Jeff Denham. Harder won the race in November 2018, one of seven House seats in California that Democrats grabbed from the GOP. Republicans have made them national priorities to try to flip back this year.
Politico reported earlier this month on another series of antiimmigrant and antiMuslim Facebook and Twitter posts and retweets from Howze’s accounts, including one that referred to the “Pedophile Prophet Mohamed” and another in which he called for sending all Dreamers to Mexico, adding the hashtag, “#DeportThemAll.”
Those sentiments likely don’t play well in a congressional district where 40% of the residents are Latino.
Howze denied writing those original posts, calling them “negative and ugly,” and said his account had been hijacked by an unnamed person who used his password to post the messages.
The posts “do not represent me, who I am, now or ever,” he told Politico.
On Wednesday, Howze’s campaign called the new report “a redundant story already reported on weeks ago,” and blamed Democratic leaders for bringing it back.
GOP leaders, who had sidestepped calls to take action after the first reports, were quick to react Wednesday. By late in the evening, Howze had been pulled from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, which recruits GOP candidates believed to have a solid chance of winning open or Democraticheld seats. Then, on Thursday, the committee rescinded its endorsement.
Howze was one of 104 candidates in the Young Guns program, including seven other Republicans in California. The decision to remove him, made by Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, head of the GOP committee, and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, could be costly for Howze’s campaign.
The Young Guns program is also designed to introduce local candidates to GOP donors across the country. That outside money could be crucial to Howze’s chances in November, since the most recent campaign finance report showed Harder with nearly $3.6 million in his campaign account, compared with just $100,702 for his Republican opponent.
Both GOP leaders had harsh words for the posts linked to Howze.
“These statements are unacceptable and not indicative of the Republican Party and what we are building here at the NRCC with our diverse slate of candidates,” Emmer said in a statement.
In a statement sent to the National Journal, McCarthy called the messages in Howze’s social media accounts “disappointing and disturbing,” adding that “bigotry and hateful rhetoric — in any form — have no place in the Republican Party.”
McCarthy has not pulled his endorsement of Howze and threw the candidate the slimmest of lifelines. He said that while he and Emmer “will take immediate action if Mr. Howze is found to be the originator of these posts,” the social media messages “do not reflect the Ted Howze that I have briefly interacted with.”
Republican Ted Howze, running against Democratic Rep. Josh Harder in ’18, when he came in third.