The National Republican Congressional Committee has withdrawn its endorsement of a congressional candidate in New Jersey after reporters dug up offensive comments he’d made about black and Hispanic people.
“Bigotry has no place in society — let alone the U.S. House of Representatives,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement Monday night. “The NRCC withdraws our support of Seth Grossman and calls on him to reconsider his candidacy.”
Grossman, a former elected official in Atlantic County, was not the party’s first choice to run in New Jersey’s 2nd District. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-N.J.) announced his retirement late last year, and the local party scrambled to find a contender in a district that backed President Trump in 2016 but was high on Democrats’ target list.
No strong candidate emerged, and Grossman won the four-way June 5 primary with 39 percent of the vote. Almost immediately, Democratic and liberal groups began digging through his social media and through videos from candidate forums.
In one video, Grossman answered a question about how Republicans could reach more diverse groups of voters by saying “the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap, and un-American,” having “become an excuse by Democrats, communists, and socialists, to say that we’re not all created equal.” In a Facebook post, first uncovered by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, Grossman linked approvingly to an article at a white nationalist website that argued African Americans “are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
“Oy vay!” wrote Grossman. “What so many people, black, white and Hispanic, whisper to me privately but never dare say out loud publicly.”
The NRCC’s Stivers, who had worried about the low candidate quality in the district even before Grossman won, suggested that the candidate should leave the race. But while the NRCC initially criticized Democratic nominee Jeff Van Drew, a moderate state senator, the race had already quietly fallen off the Republicans’ fall map. Grossman, who had raised just $22,529 before the primary, was not getting air cover from the party, and the district’s media market was not included in buys by either the NRCC or Republican super PACs.
It would be possible for Republicans to replace Grossman on the ballot. In 2002, just five weeks before that year’s midterm election, then-Sen. Robert Torricelli ended his campaign after a series of scandals, and Democrats replaced him on the ballot with Sen. Frank Lautenberg. At the time, the state’s Republican Party sued to prevent the switch.
But Torricelli willingly left the race; there is no indication that Grossman, who has apologized for the Facebook posts, would do the same.