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Following racial controversy, GOP gives up on NJ candidate

One GOP candidate's history on racial issues became so controversial that the National Republican Congressional Committee un-endorsed him.
The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014.

The first sign of trouble in New Jersey's 2nd congressional district came two months ago. On the heels of Seth Grossman's Republican primary victory, the public learned that the GOP nominee had delivered remarks in which he said, "The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American."

Grossman went on to describe concerns about diversity as "an excuse by Democrats, communists, and socialists, basically, to say that we're not all created equal."

Yesterday, the story got considerably worse when Media Matters highlighted the fact that the Republican congressional hopeful "previously touted opinion pieces that were published on two leading white nationalist websites." One of those posts, which Grossman praised, claimed that Black people "are a threat to all who cross their paths."

Republican officials had defended Grossman, but last night, as the Washington Post  reported, they officially gave up.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has withdrawn its endorsement of a congressional candidate in New Jersey after reporters dug up offensive comments he'd made about black and Hispanic people."Bigotry has no place in society -- let alone the U.S. House of Representatives," NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement Monday night. "The NRCC withdraws our support of Seth Grossman and calls on him to reconsider his candidacy."

To the extent that electoral considerations matter in a story like this, it's probably worth emphasizing that New Jersey's 2nd is seen by both parties as a key 2018 battleground. The district is currently represented by Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who's retiring, and with a partisan-voter-index rating of R+1, this should be among the nation's most competitive contests.

Which makes it all the more significant that the National Republican Congressional Committee no longer feels it can support its own candidate.

At least as of this morning, Grossman remains the GOP nominee, and he's given no indication that he's open to quitting. That said, if his position were to change, it would fall to Republican officials in New Jersey to scramble to find a new candidate with four months remaining until Election Day.

The Democratic candidate in this race is state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, whom party leaders aggressively recruited for this race. As things stand, he's now the clear favorite to win.