MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — National and state Republicans have withdrawn their support from a California congressional candidate over offensive online posts about Muslims and Hillary Clinton that he says are not his words.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has called the posts disturbing but has not withdrawn his endorsement of Ted Howze, who is facing freshman Democrat Josh Harder in the farm belt's swing 10th District. However, McCarthy said in a statement that he "will take action immediately if Mr. Howze is found to be the originator of these posts.”
In a statement, Howze said he was the target of “maliciously false attacks" and intended to continue his campaign. He did not address the decisions by the California Republican Party or the campaign arm of House Republicans, the National Republican Congressional Committee, to withdraw their backing from his candidacy.
He said the posts, which include derogatory remarks about Muslims and suggest Hillary Clinton and her 2016 campaign chairman were responsible for the murder of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer, “do not resemble anything close to my personal words or actions.”
He attributed the attacks to “national Democrats and their left-wing media” who see him as a threat to Harder, who ousted Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in 2018.
California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said the posts are “disgraceful, disgusting and do not represent the values we hold or the party we are building.” The party's board voted unanimously to rescind its endorsement of Howze.
NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer called the posts “unacceptable and not indicative of the Republican Party and what we are building.”
The posts were first reported by the website Politico, which said they were uncovered by Ryan Williams, a Democratic operative who last cycle managed Uniting California, a joint initiative by the California Labor Federation and Tom Steyer’s NextGen America aimed at flipping Republican-held House seats.
Harder's campaign said “the last thing we need in Congress is someone like Ted Howze.”
The Modesto Bee reported earlier this week that Howze’s campaign said someone else with access to his account posted the offensive statements and he did not agree with them.