Green Party Drops McCormick After Inflammatory Facebook Comments

The Green Party of Connecticut announced on Friday that it had dropped its support for Tom McCormick, the party’s candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson after McCormick posted inflammatory comments on social media.

In a statement, the Green Party of Connecticut said it dropped support for McCormick because, in response to a post on the Manchester, CT Crime & Safety Watch Facebook group about a theft of tires from a car, he said, “The thieve (sic) needs a necktie.” 

Activists from two Hartford-area groups advocating for racial justice – POWER UP – Manchester and Black Lives Matter 860 – approached the party to say that the comments were outrageous and indefensible and that the party needed to do something, party co-Chair Peter Goselin told CT Examiner.

“We engaged in a discussion with them, and we engaged in a discussion with Tom McCormick, and unfortunately, Tom was not willing to take responsibility for the implications of what he said. He wasn’t willing to apologize,” Goselin said. “He wasn’t willing to say, ‘I recognize, no matter what I may have meant, this is what my words actually said.’”

Because McCormick did not take responsibility for his comments, the Green Party had to make the decision to end its support for his candidacy, Goselin said. 

McCormick responded to CT Examiner on Friday afternoon with the following statement by email:

In response to criticism on social media, McCormick earlier wrote: “A necktie doesn’t refer to hanging. It is something much worse, way worse thus, it wasn’t a serious comment. Five years at hard labor for crimes like this till it sinks in with the thieves that this is going to be put to a stop.”

In another comment, McCormick wrote that he was not advocating for or referring to lynching the thief, and that he was making an “allusion” and his comment should not be taken seriously.

“Mine was a comment that was too ‘cute’ not knowing that a necktie can refer to lynching. I certainly do not advocate lynching someone for stealing tires. I have never heard such an extreme call,” McCormick wrote. “A necktie as I used the word refers to the practice of putting a tire – thus the connection to the tire theft – over someone’s head and setting it on fire.”

McCormick wrote that he was aware of two instances of that happening – to “express communal rage” against people who cooperated with the apartheid government in South Africa, and by “Hindu nationalists” in “Ghurat State, India in 1969.”

“I oppose the death penalty absolutely and vigilante justice absolutely,” McCormick wrote.

McCormick has been active in environmental and peace activism for many years and was regarded as a serious and experienced activist, said Goselin. Members of the Green Party were as surprised as anybody by his comments, he said.

“The flip side of that is that we probably didn’t do a good enough job of getting our candidates to talk explicitly before we endorsed them about where they stood on issues of racial justice,” Goselin said.

A news release from McCormick when he accepted the party’s nomination focused largely on reducing military spending, pointing specifically at the Columbia-class submarines being built at Electric Boat and at the development of the F-35 jet. He also wrote that he opposed ratepayer subsidies for the Millstone Nuclear Power Station and would work to close nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

“A primary focus of the campaign will be advocating for a massive shift from Pentagon spending to health, education and welfare and environmental concerns,” he wrote in the release.

McCormick wrote that he supports the Green Party platform, the Green New Deal, and the ten key values of the Green Party, including social justice and respect for diversity.

“In the future, we certainly intend that we’re going to put a much greater emphasis, not just on the views of our candidates, but also on their own activism and whether they are representative of the communities that we think need to be heard,” Goselin said. “In practical terms, that means that in the future, we definitely want to see more Black and brown candidates and more people of color generally, and more candidates from the LGBTQ community and other oppressed groups, as well. There’s no substitute for genuine representation.”

The Green Party has historically focused on environmental issues and promoting peace, Goselin said. Those issues are as important as ever, but the party also has to learn to actively discuss issues involving racial justice, and make sure candidates are committed to those issues, he said.

The emerging view within the Green Party is that it needs to serve as the electoral arm of the social justice movement, Goselin said. That means candidates they put on the ballot should be activists working on those issues, he said.

“In the future, we certainly intend that we’re going to put a much greater emphasis, not just on the views of our candidates, but also on their own activism and whether they are representative of the communities that we think need to be heard,” Goselin said. “In practical terms, that means that in the future, we definitely want to see more Black and brown candidates and more people of color generally, and more candidates from the LGBTQ community and other oppressed groups, as well. There’s no substitute for genuine representation.”

Dropping support for McCormick could create procedural challenges for the Green Party going forward. If he does not receive at least 1 percent of the vote in the district, the party will need to gather nearly 3,000 signatures to petition to be on the ballot for the next Congressional election in 2022. The party did that years ago, and has remained on the ballot as candidates have passed the vote threshold – but that could be in jeopardy as the party renounced support for McCormick, Goselin said.

“It may very well mean we lose the ballot line and the next time we want to run someone for that office, we’re going to have to go out and get a couple thousand more signatures,” Goselin said. “It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of expense, but we agreed it’s a price we’re willing to pay for being consistent about our political principles.”

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