National Republicans are seizing on a local California Democratic leader’s controversial tweets to try to gain traction in a competitive congressional race straddling Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Every day this week the National Republican Congressional Committee has highlighted statements tweeted by David Atkins, chairman of the Ventura County Democratic Central Committee. The GOP group is using the tweets to hammer at freshman Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village).
Atkins, a Brownley supporter, tweeted recently that he anticipated the death of older, white, “hate-fueled” GOP voters, and made controversial statements about conservative men’s bedroom prowess.
“Racially motivated and vitriolic rhetoric has no place in California's political dialogue. David Atkins’ hateful rant is disgusting and unbecoming of his position as the chairman of the Ventura County Democrats,” said Andrew Clark, an NRCC spokesman. “Elected Democrats like Julia Brownley need to condemn his comments immediately and send a signal that hate-fueled language like this is not welcome in Ventura County.”
A consultant working for Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), who is Brownley’s opponent, also called on Brownley to condemn the quotes, and the NRCC called for Atkins’ resignation on Thursday.
A spokesman for Brownley said she was not pleased by the tweets.
"The congresswoman thought the comments were inappropriate and an unnecessary distraction from talking about the issues Ventura County voters care about, including women's health and how to strengthen the middle class,” said campaign manager Jacob Dusseau.
An attempt to reach Atkins was unsuccessful. But after the flap over his tweets blew up among GOP staffers and on conservative websites, he seemed pleased by the response.
“Dear @NRCC: thanks for all the new followers!” Atkins tweeted on Monday.
The race to represent California’s 26th District is being closely watched by both parties and is likely to be competitive in the fall.
Brownley has a massive fundraising edge over Gorell. The most recent finance filings showed that she had $1.2 million cash on hand, 10 times his bank balance.
But they received nearly the same level of votes in the June 3 primary, in which four candidates competed for the top two spots. Brownley took first place with 38,854 votes, Gorell was second with 833 fewer votes.
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