CHICAGO (AP) - A Republican candidate seeking a seat in the General Assembly is unworthy of the post because of his use of sexist and racist language, the GOP floor leader in the Illinois House said.
State Rep. Peter Breen said Winfield Township Republican Chairman Burt Minor should withdraw from the GOP primary for the 42nd Illinois House seat. It is alleged he repeatedly used a racial slur during a fall meeting with Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold of Urbana.
Harold, who is African-American, and Breen said the comments came during an Oct. 12 meeting in Carol Stream when the 37-year-old Harold was meeting with local Republicans.
Harold said Minor asked if she had children, was married and were a lesbian.
"I was shocked," she said. "I told him I was not, but I made it clear that someone's sexual orientation should not be used to disqualify them from seeking public office."
Minor never apologized, and then asked whether it is appropriate to use the offensive slang commonly referred to as the N-word, Harold said.
"I haven't heard anyone use that full word in a long time. I said it's absolutely inappropriate to use that word," Harold said. "He used it again and repeated it three or four times."
In a statement, Minor noted many Republican voters aren't comfortable discussing issues of race and sexual orientation.
"My discussion with Erika was an attempt to point out this unfortunate reality, it was in no way meant to be offensive," he said. "I honestly left our meeting unaware that our conversation might have made Erika uncomfortable. My apologies to Erika if she was in any way offended."
Breen is contacting party members asking them to withdraw support for Minor in the GOP primary because of the comments Breen calls "outrageous." Breen, who represents the 48th District, said he met with Minor to discuss the situation.
"(Minor) can pull himself out of the race, or the people of the 42nd District can make sure he is not the candidate," said Breen, who supports DuPage County Board member Amy Grant in the primary for the 42nd District.
The use of slurs by a Republican official to describe Harold has occurred before. During the 2014 Republican primary for an Illinois congressional seat, the 2003 Miss America and Harvard graduate was called "a streetwalker" by a GOP county chairman.