National GOP disowns South Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman

Listen 2:33
Seth Grossman is a Republican congressional candidate in South Jersey. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Seth Grossman is a Republican congressional candidate in South Jersey. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The National Republican Congressional Committee has withdrawn its support for New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman after it emerged he’d posted an article on his Facebook page which said blacks represent “a threat to all who cross their paths.”

In a statement, NRCC chairman U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio called on Grossman to “reconsider his candidacy.”

Grossman lashed back Tuesday, saying he’s staying in the race and that the NRCC chair should resign. He said he hadn’t carefully read the article he posted in 2014 and doesn’t believe its racist sentiments, though in explaining his actions he said many black teenagers are violent and dangerous.

“Instead of calling on me to get out of the race, the NRCC should support candidates who support the president’s agenda,” Grossman said in a statement. “They should stop giving ammo to the radical left to use against Republican candidates. Steve Stivers should resign immediately for failure to support the president and his agenda.”

Grossman is the party’s nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in South Jersey. The seat is currently held by GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who’s retiring when his term ends in January.

Grossman won the June 5 GOP primary and faces state Rep. Jeff Van Drew in the November election.

If Grossman were to decide to withdraw from the race, the Republican Party could name a replacement, presumably one with more crossover appeal to independents and Democrats than Grossman has at the moment.

If Grossman takes the GOP down to defeat in November, the party will be sacrificing one of the 24 seats Democrats need to flip to take control of Congress.

Second controversy

Grossman drew criticism last month when he stood by a previously unreported campaign comment that “diversity is a bunch of crap, and un-American.”

The latest controversy involving Grossman stems from the revelation by Media Matters that Grossman had posted an article on his Facebook page from someone who described himself as “a public defender in a southern metropolitan area.”

The writer says that “… my experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

Grossman said in a phone interview that he posted the piece without reading it carefully because he saw it on the Facebook page of “a trusted source” — Allan West, a retired African-American Army officer and former congressman who became a conservative and sometimes provocative commentator for Fox News.

“If I had done it again, I would have read it more carefully, because there were some despicable, racist comments in that piece,” Grossman said. “But I didn’t see them at the time I shared it.”

Van Drew said in an interview the country has no place for white supremacy, and that he’ll take Grossman at his word that posting the article was a careless mistake.

“I would suggest probably in the future that when you get a piece of information that you totally disavow and disagree with, that you send it back and express your distress and disagreement,” Van Drew said.

Asked if he should get out of the race, Van Drew said that’s Grossman’s call.

“That’s between him and the Republican Party,” he said.

‘Another side of the story’

The piece from the self-described public defender originally appeared in a white advocacy publication called American Renaissance, which says that “a realistic understanding of race is essential to the survival of the West.”

Grossman said that he posted the story because at the time the Black Lives Matter movement had created a climate of hostility toward police, portraying officers as “getting up every day looking for an unarmed teenaged black kid to murder.”

Grossman said that climate of hostility led to an increase in shootings of police.

“So the purpose of sharing that article was to show that there’s another side of the story,” Grossman said. “That many of the black teenagers, though unarmed, were very, very violent, and very, very dangerous, and that the police out in the street had to deal with some ugly situations.”

The piece from American Renaissance doesn’t refer to Black Lives Matter protests or police shootings.

I interviewed Grossman in June after his disparaging comments about diversity from the primary campaign were reported, and he didn’t back down.

“Most of the African-Americans I speak to about this say that diversity and affirmative action is another word for ‘excuse,’ ” Grossman said, ” ‘Excuse for failure, excuse for not getting training, excuse for no discipline, and that is what is killing the African-American community, the idea that you can succeed without work, without achievement, just because you can say, ‘Well, my great-great-granddaddy was treated unfairly.’ ”

Grossman said he plans to stay in the race and win.

 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.