“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 that next time we play.”Riiiiiiight. That's the Charlie Webster who is the retiring chairman of the Republican Party of Maine. He is all hot and bothered over reports that black people—can you imagine? actual black people, dozens of them in some towns—showed up at the polls on Election Day. And nobody recognized them.
Clearly, something is amiss in one of the whitest states in the union. Clearly, those voters must have been bused in from ... uh ... Kenya or somewhere. Fraud obviously. And Webster plans to get to the bottom of it even though he has come under fire for his remarks from critics, including several in his own party. That party lost by big margins in Maine Nov. 6, obviously spurring Webster to search for excuses for the losses. In face of the complaints, he now says he regrets having singled out blacks during a stunningly cliched election post-mortem interview with the local NBC affiliate in which he talked about Democrats luring voters to the polls with warnings about loss of food stamps and welfare:
"Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in town knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out …"
A day ago, Webster reiterated the claims in an interview with the Portland Press Herald:
"I'm not talking about 15 or 20. I'm talking hundreds," he said. "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."Frankly, that's not what's sleazy. This isn't the first time Webster has alleged voter fraud. He's made baseless accusations of cheating at the polls by college students, for instance.
Some Republicans, including Kenneth Fredette, the new minority leader of Maine's House of Representatives—which was returned to Democratic control by the election—said Webster's comments weren't helpful because the party needs to be more welcoming. And Lance Dutson, a prominent Maine Republican who has worked for Sen. Susan Collins, tweeted that Webster should resign immediately.
A new Republican state chairman will be elected in December. Perhaps the next one will try to avoid sounding like a transplanted 1950s Dixiecrat.