One of the highest elected officials in one of Georgia’s most diverse counties waded into controversial territory over the weekend when he wrote a Facebook post calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis – a Civil Rights legend already locked in a war of words with president-elect Donald Trump – a “racist pig.”
The reaction to Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, a Republican, taking on Lewis a few days before the holiday honoring the life of counterpart Martin Luther King Jr. was varied – but swift.
Many took to the comments section of Hunter’s Facebook posts to support him. Others did quite the opposite.
“Hunter is a disgrace to Gwinnett County in particular and Georgia in general, and he should apologize for those comments,” Gwinnett Democratic Party Chairman Gabe Okoye told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He later called for Hunter to resign.
Hunter, who was first elected to Gwinnett’s Board of Commissioners in 2012 and narrowly won re-election in November, made the Facebook post in question on Saturday afternoon. It came amid well-publicized tensions between Lewis and Trump, which started when Lewis told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he didn’t view Trump as a “legitimate president.”
In addition to calling Lewis “a racist pig,” the subsequent Facebook post from Hunter – whose Gwinnett district lies many miles east of Lewis’ congressional one – referred to “Demonrats” as “a bunch of idiots.”
On Sunday afternoon, Hunter addressed Lewis on Facebook a second time, calling his election wins “all illegitimate.”
Hunter later posted an image that included this phrase: “If you’re easily offended and looking for a ‘safe place’ my page ain’t it.. Move along snowflake.”
Sometime shortly before 11 a.m. Monday, however, the “racist pig” post was no longer on Hunter’s timeline. The page’s privacy settings also appeared to be changed, but the other posts mentioned above were still visible to “friends” and “followers” — along with additional posts mocking U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, asking if there were “any white guys” on the University of Alabama’s football team and criticizing Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to declare a state of emergency ahead of last weekend’s ultimately uneventful winter storm.
In November, he used the word “libtard” in a comment on one of his own Facebook posts.
The privacy changes on Hunter’s Facebook page were likely in response to an influx of nasty comments, many of which called the commissioner disparaging names or urged him to “stay classy.”
Hunter is the vice president of a local environmental testing firm and, prior to his time on the Board of Commissioners, worked in the county’s department of public utilities and served on its water and sewage authority (2005-09) and its planning commission (2011-12).
He represents District 3, which covers a wide (and diverse) swath of southern and eastern Gwinnett, including parts of Snellville, Loganville, Grayson and Dacula. Though much of suburban Gwinnett remains staunchly Republican, Hillary Clinton won the county in November’s presidential election. It was the first time a Democrat took Gwinnett since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Gwinnett is the second-most populous county in Georgia. It’s also a majority-minority county, meaning non-white residents account for more than half of its population.
Hunter’s fellow commissioners, all Republicans, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. Nor did several other local, state and federal Republican party members with Gwinnett ties.
Some local Democrats were happy to weigh in, however.
Georgia State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, whose District 93 touches part of Hunter’s Gwinnett territory, shared her thoughts on Twitter, saying she was “ashamed” of him.
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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Tyler Estep