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GOP House candidate from east Wichita Wichita candidate’s Facebook post about racial politics raises eyebrows

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, at 8:34 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, at 8:23 a.m.

Correction: Kelly Arnold's official title was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

Tim Garvey, a Republican state House candidate for the 83rd District in east Wichita, said Tuesday a message he recently posted on his personal Facebook page was his attempt to help keep racism out of national political campaigns.

The message also included a comment directed at President Obama that used the f-word.

“It reflects how passionate I was about it,” Garvey said, “but I should have shown more respect. I was pretty ticked off.”

Garvey, 25, said he posted the message in late August or early September from his phone. He said it was only up for about three minutes because he realized there were so many grammatical errors in the message.

“My phone doesn’t have spell check,” he said.

His message, which didn’t have much punctuation, read in part, “U wanna (f---) us over mr. Obama you go ahead but you have to pay the conscience.”

He also wrote, “there is no black or white there is only blood we all bleed red.”

“I was just trying to get the point across that (politics) shouldn’t involve race as the issue,” said Garvey, a property manager. “We shouldn’t try to divide the country.”

Carolyn Bridges, Garvey’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 6 election, said of the Facebook post, “Why would you do something so bizarre? Anybody who wants to hold a position of such public responsibility, it makes you wonder when they put something out so irresponsible for the whole world to see.”

Bridges, 66, a former Wichita school principal, said she was told by her campaign manager about Garvey’s Facebook message when it was first posted. She said she was told it was only up “five minutes tops.”

Garvey told The Eagle that Obama divided the country by “highlighting” the Trayvon Martin case – in which Martin, 17, was shot by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer in February.

“The Black Panthers came back. We had Jesse Jackson talking about it,” said Garvey, who is white. “People in the media and politicians bring up murders in swing states. Murders happen every day. It’s not the whole nation’s business if someone gets killed. It keeps race in the picture.

“We shouldn’t look at racial differences. It divides things, and we should focus on the issues and that’s it.”

The Huffington Post wrote about the post last week. Garvey told the national online newspaper that his message was driven by his concern about Obama’s health care plan.

Garvey told The Eagle he’s had good responses about the post from black people.

“I talked to a young black yesterday,” Garvey said, “and he said, ‘No, I understood what you were trying to say, to make sure race isn’t an issue.’ ”

Kelly Arnold, vice chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, said he was aware of the Facebook message.

“We can’t control individual candidates’ personal comments on personal Web pages or Facebook pages,” he said.

Arnold said he had not talked to Garvey about the message and didn’t plan to do so.

Garvey and Bridges are seeking the open seat held by Rep. Jo Ann Pottorff, R-Wichita, who is retiring after 27 years in the Legislature.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or at rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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