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GOP Chairman: Tacoma mayor should apologize for calling Republicans “racist”

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Dec. 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
December 3, 2011 2:58 am

Washington Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur said today Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland should apologize for her recent remarks to a group of Pacific Lutheran University college students in which she called the GOP “racist.”

Kirby Wilbur
Marilyn Strickland

“I think the appropriate thing for her to do would be to issue a statement saying, `I really didn’t mean to say all Republicans are racist and I’m sorry,’” Wilbur said.

“But that would be asking a lot from her, and I wouldn’t expect it,” Wilbur added. “I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for an apology.”

Strickland’s recent talk to PLU students during an on-campus event organized by the Pierce County Young Democrats on Nov. 17 spawned collegiate photojournalist Kevin Knodell‘s column in The Mooring Mast Thursday and online today.  It broke the news about the mayor’s inflammatory comments (This link may not be working because the PLU administration has taken down the site for reasons unrelated to the Strickland story).  The TNT’s Nose column also picked up on the matter today.

In his column, Knodell wrote:

I was put off by Mayor Strickland’s comment that was met with laughter about Republicans being unable to court black voters because “you just can’t get around that they’re racist,” considering that I was raised by Republicans, though I identify as an independent.

Knodell also took issue with the way Strickland later tracked down his cell number and called him the day after the event, in an apparent act of damage control.

Strickland, who now holds a nonpartisan office but has been a Democrat Party activist, told The News Tribune Thursday she later regretted her remark about the GOP.  What she meant to say, she said, was that there’s a perception the Republican Party is racist.

“I probably didn’t choose my words as carefully as I should,” Strickland said.

With the latest comments from Strickland, there “seem to be a pattern” among Democrats lately, Wilbur said, noting state Democrat Party Chairman Dwight Pelz recently called Republicans “fascists” during a speech in Seattle earlier this year.

“It’s unfortunate that Democrats like Mayor Strickland feel they need to resort to name calling instead of talking about the issues,” Wilbur said today. “She obvsiously thought no one was there to hear it. She was talking to her own group, and what apparently she says in private with them is different that what she wants the public to hear. That’s disppointing to me.”

Wilbur said that while  “there have been policy differences and outreach issues for (Republicans) reaching minority voters,” he noted Washington’s GOP has a rich history of diversity, including nominating the state’s first African American candidate for lieutenant governor, Art Fletcher (*see footnote).

“Name-calling isn’t going to get us there,” Wilbur said of Strickland’s remarks. “It distracts us from the real issues, on top of which it’s certainly not true.”

“But anytime Mayor Strickland wants to talk to me about these issues,” Wilbur added, “I would be more than happy to talk to her.”

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*(Shortly before his death in 2005, Fletcher criticized the GOP for moving to “a far-right agenda that hurt the poor and minorities,” according to this Tri-City Herald editorial reprinted by the Seattle Times.)

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