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GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts

The Hill logo The Hill 5/22/2020 Tal Axelrod
a man looking at the camera: GOP pulls support from California House candidate over "unacceptable" social media posts © Screenshot GOP pulls support from California House candidate over "unacceptable" social media posts

Republicans are pulling their support from a California House candidate after a report revealed a litany of social media posts on his personal account in recent years, including posts that accused prominent Democrats of murder and demeaned Muslims.

Ted Howze, who is running against vulnerable freshman Rep. Josh Harder (D) in California's 10th Congressional District, was removed from the National Republican Congressional Committee's (NRCC) "Young Guns" website that promotes challengers to Democratic incumbents and was renounced by the NRCC.

"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. We have pulled our support," Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the NRCC chairman, said in a statement.

Howze was also rebuked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who had endorsed him earlier in the cycle.

"The content in question on Mr. Howze's social media channels is disappointing and disturbing," McCarthy said in a statement sent to media outlets. "Bigotry and hateful rhetoric - in any form - have no place in the Republican Party. These posts are unacceptable and do not reflect the Mr. Howze that I have briefly interacted with."

The rebukes came after a Politico story unearthed a string of social media posts from the California Republican's personal account.

Among other posts, Howze accused the Clintons of having "a trail of bodies as long as the Mississippi River behind them" and told members of the Black Lives Matter movement that as "a culture 95% percent of you vote in lock step for the same political party who held you as physical slaves and now wish to keep you as political slaves unable to effect any real change for the better."

The Politico story was the second to reveal such posts, the first of which included posts calling the Islamic prophet Muhammad a rapist and a pedophile and accusing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) of "hitting the crack pipe too hard."

In its latest report, the outlet said that a September 2016 post showed Howze questioning whether "a Muslim [can] ever truly be a good American citizen" and concluding in a lengthy social media post that "[t]he Western world ... should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS."

Howze had previously asserted that he did not write the commentary on the initial batch of social media posts on his accounts, saying they contained "negative and ugly ideas." His campaign issued a statement to Politico calling the second story "fake news."

Republicans have been eager to make up ground in California after losing seven House seats in the state in 2018. Harder flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018 by fewer than 5 points, and his district is a top Republican target heading into November.

Democrats seized on the posts surrounding Howze, noting that Republicans did not distance themselves from the candidate after the first story on his social media emerged in March.

"Ted Howze is the handpicked candidate of Leader McCarthy and House Republican Leadership. Mr. McCarthy endorsed Howze before the primary and the NRCC kept Howze on their list of preferred candidates more than two weeks after POLITICO first reported on his bigoted and hateful social media rhetoric," said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

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