State GOP formally distances itself from House nominee Walker

DOVER — The Delaware Republican Party announced Friday it would take the unprecedented step of disavowing its nominee for the House of Representatives, with the chairman saying he does not represent the values of Delaware Republicans.

Scott Walker, who won a primary over Lee Murphy earlier this month with 53 percent of the vote, has come under fire from both the right and the left in recent weeks. Chairman Mike Harrington said before the primary Mr. Walker was not qualified, and as it became apparent on election night Mr. Walker would defeat the party’s preferred candidate, he declined to say if GOP officials would back the nominee.

Mr. Walker has made a number of bizarre Facebook posts this month, insulting others and sometimes contradicting him-self. He has:

• Accused Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, his Democratic opponent, of planning to raise taxes to “blow that money on lifetime welfare for welfare queens”

• Blasted Sen. Tom Carper as a “racist redneck unfit to be assistant dogcatcher”

• Described Mr. Harrington a “loser”

Scott Walker

• Referred to Treasurer Ken Simpler, who is generally seen as the GOP’s best hope to win the governor’s seat in 2020 or 2024, as a “simpleton”

• Advocated for ending Medicare and Medicaid so the country can eliminate the income tax

• Explained he expects his opponents to bribe a former tenant into filing a false sexual assault claim

• Said “the nutjobs are cooking up another 9 11”

• Stated beer helps repair muscle tissue

To Mr. Harrington and others, it’s a bridge too far.

“The last embarrassing Facebook message that he sent out just infuriated the entire Republican Party, and so last night in the executive committee we had an open discussion about disavowing him and it was voted on unanimously that this man does not represent in any way, shape or form the Republican Party,” Mr. Harrington said.

The disavowal, which Mr. Harrington said has never been done before by the Delaware GOP, means Mr. Walker will essentially be shunned. He will not be invited to events by or receive funding from the party, and his name won’t appear on any Republican literature.

“That gentleman’s on his own,” Mr. Harrington said, noting he still does not know how Mr. Walker won his primary.

Mr. Walker was unfazed by the news.

“They’ve already disavowed me,” he said. “They already don’t have anything to do with me, so what’s the difference?”

He remains confident he will win, promising he will draw support from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

“You will see more day-by-day defections from the Democratic Party,” he said.

He won the primary despite spending less than $5,000 and has bragged he spent just a few cents per vote. One thing he may have, at least, is name recognition, thanks to his handmade spray-painted wood signs found alongside roadways throughout the state.

His peculiar behavior didn’t begin this month: Mr. Walker announced in February he was seeking a sober living home to combat his alcoholism, around the same time he posted a video to Facebook criticizing a plus-size model as obese. Many took his comments as fat-shaming, and he received harsh criticism on Facebook.

When he ran for the same seat in 2016, competing in a six-way primary for the Democratic nomination, he called his opponents racists, including casting the two black candidates as “Uncle Toms,” claiming without evidence they failed to stand up for other black Delawareans.

Mr. Walker pulled in about 5 percent of the vote that year.

Friday, Mr. Harrington said he will encourage voters to back Andy Webb, who filed last week as a write-in candidate. Mr. Webb, a Republican, said in a statement he chose to run because he was encouraged by others and was disappointed “by the limited and murky choices that we as voters have” in the general election.

To Mr. Harrington, picking between Mr. Walker and Rep. Blunt Rochester is a lose-lose proposition.

In a letter to the editor, Mr. Harrington said party officials told Mr. Walker he was not welcome in the party earlier this year when he proposed campaigning for office as a Republican.

“We apologize to the voters of Delaware and our Party faithful that these series of unfortunate events have led to this situation,” he wrote.

Asked if he believes Mr. Walker is a racist, Mr. Harrington said comments made by the party’s nominee “certainly indicate that he is racist.”

Mr. Walker disagreed with that assessment, describing himself as a strong civil rights advocate who has fought for minori-ties in court despite not being a lawyer.

Asked to indicate some cases he won, he cited two. One was thrown out by the courts, while the dismissal of another was overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court, which ruled it was wrongly dismissed.

In 2016, Delaware, New Castle County and Wilmington sued him — under the name Russell Walker — alleging he ran a sham charity and housed individuals in “substandard and dangerous conditions.” The lawsuit said Mr. Walker targeted peo-ple with disabilities, addiction, poor credit or criminal convictions in “deceptive and predatory” ways and racked up 371 code violations in a little less than 10 years.

The Delaware Democratic Party called on the GOP to denounce Mr. Walker Thursday. Mr. Harrington on Friday said the statement did not drive the decision of Republican officials.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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