Local Republican Party turns away congressional candidate, cites racism

2014-03-12T17:07:00Z 2014-05-30T11:02:31Z Local Republican Party turns away congressional candidate, cites racismBy TOM LUTEY tlutey@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

GOP congressional candidate Drew Turiano has been branded a racist by the Yellowstone County Republican Party and turned away from the group’s key political event.

“We asked Mr. Turiano not to attend our event because we have no intention of allowing him a platform to spread hate and intolerance,” said Jennifer Owen, Yellowstone County Republican chairwoman. “There is simply no place for racism in this party.”

All major Republican candidates for statewide office, other than Turiano, will get a chance to speak Saturday at the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, an event expected to draw 300 people.

A Helena Republican, Turiano last week launched his campaign to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. Daines is seeking the Republican nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated last month by Democrat Max Baucus.

Turiano told The Gazette he was being turned away from the dinner because he’s a self-described member of the Tea Party, a group he believes mainstream Republicans are trying to purge from elections.

Turiano said Owen may have been offended by his support for “Operation Wetback,” a proposal to round up and deport all illegal aliens and their American-born children. Turiano called for the operation while announcing his candidacy.

He also voiced concern that in coming decades white Americans will become a small minority and possibly be exterminated by the nonwhite majority.

“When white America is about 10 percent of the population in about 50 years, like the white population in South Africa is today, isn’t it possible for a Louis Farrakhan-type demagogue to not only easily become the leader of America, but then once in power, might he not also attempt to exterminate white America like the current black president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is attempting to exterminate white South Africans according to the organization Genocide Watch?” Turiano asked.

The candidate suggested the United States grant asylum to white South Africans, but suggested that wouldn’t happen because the immigrants might vote for conservative candidates.

“There’s nothing racist about it,” Turiano told The Gazette. “It’s a legitimate discourse that’s happening right now among conservatives.”

Owen said the Yellowstone County Republican Party was not turning away members of the Tea Party, as Turiano suggested.

Bowen Greenwood, Montana GOP executive director, said “ever since Mr. Turiano chose to launch his campaign with an offensive racial epithet, many Republicans have made the choice not to associate with him. Our party has a long tradition of standing against racism.”

Turiano said the Yellowstone County Republicans were the only ones to turn him away.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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