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Maine Republican Charlie Webster apologizes for racial comments

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 12/6/2012, 12:25 p.m.

After the national elections in November, Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, claimed that groups of unknown Black voters showed up at rural polling places on Election Day.

"I'm not talking about 15 or 20," Webster told a local television station. "I'm talking about hundreds." He then tried to mollify the racial designation, saying, "I'm not politically correct, and maybe I shouldn't have said these voters were Black, but anyone who suggests I have a bias toward any race or group, frankly, that's sleazy."

Two days after making the assertions, Webster apologized for his comments in a written statement, according to the Portland Press Herald.

"It was my intention to talk not about race, but about perceived voting irregularities," he wrote. "However, my comments were made without proof of wrongdoing, and they had the unintended consequence of casting aspersions on an entire group of Americans. For that, I am truly sorry."

Of course, by the time his apology was made, his comments had already gathered traction across the Internet, particularly on the Drudge Report, Gawker and Politico.

Webster's remarks couldn't have come at a worse time, since the Republicans took a beating, losing majorities in the Maine House and Senate, and are sorely in need of adding more minority voters to their party's ranks. His comments not only upset African-Americans and Democrats, but his colleagues in the party were disgruntled as well, including Lance Dutson, a well-known Republican political operative.

"Webster's statements should be cause for immediate resignation," Dutson tweeted. "Any GOP who values the future of the party should demand the same."

In a prepared statement, Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Maine NAACP, said, "What his statements reveal is what voters have known through this past election cycle--that racism is at the heart of the voter suppression movement. The NAACP will continue to work each and every day on behalf of all Mainers to protect their right to vote. Toward this end, we will investigate any and all potential violations of the law by Mr. Webster and his party related to his statements this week."

Webster continued to insist there were voting irregularities, though he regrets targeting Blacks because of the withering reaction he has received. "I have a couple friends that I play basketball with who are Black and I'm sure I'm going to get a few elbows the next time we play."

He may also be on the end of several flagrant fouls intended to match the severity of his comments.

No resignation appears to be in the offing, but Webster did announce he will not seek another term as chairman, and new leaders were elected this week.