BILLINGS — The Montana Green Party wants a write-in candidate to challenge one of its members who’s running for state Legislature but is being denounced for his derogatory comments on immigrants and former President Barack Obama.
House District 85 candidate John Gibney, of Hamilton, doesn’t represent the progressive party’s values, Green Party Coordinator Danielle Breck said Saturday, adding that he refused this week to apologize for comments she described as “bigoted.”
While attending a 2016 anti-immigration rally in Missoula, Gibney was quoted by a reporter as saying Obama was a “black Muslim trying to bring this country down” and that immigrants “rape, kill and destroy.”
Gibney did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Gibney is the second Green candidate whose background has raised questions about his compatibility with the party. AP reported Tuesday that U.S. Senate candidate Timothy Adams was formerly on the Montana Republican party’s payroll and heads a newly-formed anti-tax group.
House District 85 is currently held by Republican Theresa Manzella. Two Democrats, Laura Jackson and Mary Toews, also are seeking to challenge Manzella but must first make it past the June 5 primary.
Because it would be difficult to have Gibney removed from the ballot, Breck says her party hopes to enlist a write-in candidate to run against him in the primary.
Adams and the other Green party candidates are now being asked to commit in writing to the party’s values, which include social justice, non-violence, respect for diversity, ecological wisdom and other principles.
Three candidates have complied — Adrien Owen Wagner in Montana House District 15, U.S. House candidate Doug Campbell and U.S. Senate candidate Steve Kelly, Breck said.
Greg Strandberg in Montana House District 49 and Adams have agreed to make the statements but not yet submitted them, she said.
Breck described Adams as a “politically-conscious” person who is seeking a home in politics. In addition to his work for Republicans, which consisted of about six months as a data analyst, she said he has donated to Democratic candidates, supported Montana’s medical marijuana initiative and worked for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.
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