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Somerset County Democrats disavowed a since-deleted Facebook post encouraging those who “hate our country” to run for public office, donate to political campaigns or otherwise engage in politics that drew fire from the county’s Republicans.
“A volunteer posted a meme on the Somerset County Democrats’ Facebook page that was intended to encourage people who are frustrated and angered by the vitriol, bigotry and racism coming from President Trump to engage in public life,” the Somerset County Democratic Committee said in a statement. “The meme, which was not approved by party leaders and was removed as soon as it was discovered, was poorly written and used phrases that the Somerset County Democratic Committee not only disagrees with but disavows.”
The SCDC did not identify the volunteer who made the post.
“I never thought I would see the day that the Somerset County Democratic Party would consider hating America as a qualification to run for office under their party’s banner,” Somerset County Republican Chairman Al Gaburo said. “Is this really the party that Somerset County taxpayers want running county government next January? I don’t think so.”
Gaburo and other Republicans in the county, including Freeholder Pat Walsh and sheriff candidate Bill Parenti, called for the firing of whoever made the post.
Walsh is running for re-election this year against former Green Brook Mayor Melonie Marano.
Parenti is attempting to hold the sheriff’s seat in the wake of longtime Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano, who is retiring after 18 years as sheriff. He’ll face former Franklin police lieutenant Darrin Russo in November.
“When I entered into public service, things were different; Democrats and Republicans worked together to solve problems and whether any of us loved our community and our country was never in doubt,” Walsh said. “I truly hope the Chairwoman and my opponents issue an immediate apology and assure residents that the person who posted this offense graphic is no longer in charge of the SCDC’s social media channels.”
The SCDC said it was implementing new controls on social media posts to prevent similar posts from going live, though the county party’s statements did not include specifics.
It’s also unclear whether the unnamed volunteer will still make social media posts for county Democrats.
“The Somerset County Democrats are patriotic and love America so much that we all volunteer our time to engage in local government, community activities and politics,” the SCDC said. “We also believe that the Somerset County Republicans are the same kind of patriotic Americans.”