Politics

A pastor running for state representative in Bullitt County has taken down offensive Facebook posts after reproach from both political parties in the state. In an interview with WDRB, he refused to apologize for depicting President Obama as a monkey.

Dan Johnson of Mt. Washington, Kentucky posted a variety of offensive memes: a cartoon car running over Black Lives Matter protesters, several that compared President and First Lady Obama to monkeys and another calling for states to “ban” Islam.

One picture simply said “I *Heart* Being White.”

In a cell-phone video of the full video posted on Johnson’s Facebook page, he defended the posts as satire and said that he was not a racist.

“It’s not a racist thing,” he said. “I love people, God loves people. I think one of the things that’s happened in our generation is we’ve become so politically correct that we’re afraid to be ourselves.”

Johnson is running as a Republican for the 49th House District against incumbent Democratic Rep. Linda Belcher of Shepherdsville.

Mac Brown, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, called the posts “outrageous” in a news release.

“They represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society and do not in any way, shape or form represent the views of the Republican Party of Kentucky or the many fine candidates representing us on the ballot this November,” Brown said. “I want to apologize to the members of Kentucky’s African-American community.”

Sannie Overly, chairwoman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said she agrees with Brown’s comments. She called for Johnson to withdraw from the race.

“Racism does not deserve a slap on the wrist or a second chance,” Overly said. “The only decent option would be for this candidate to withdraw from seeking a role as a lawmaker and representative of the people of Kentucky.”

The race is one of 65 contested elections for seats in the state House of Representatives this fall. Republicans are trying to take control of the chamber for the first time since 1921.

Democrats have a slim majority — 53 of the 100 seats — and the chamber is the last one controlled by party in the South.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.