“I am deeply and sincerely sorry for my inappropriate and hurtful use of racist term I used to describe Sen. Tim Scott on my personal Facebook page. It was insensitive, and I have embarrassed myself and my party by its use,” O’Connor reportedly told the Washington Examiner.
“As a result, I feel compelled to offer my resignation as chair of the Lamar County Democratic Party for consideration by the County Executive Committee,” he said.
But the local party decided to reject O’Connor’s resignation.
“On May 4, 2021, representatives of the Lamar County, Texas Democratic Party met to consider the resignation tendered by Party Chair, Gary O’Connor,” said the Lamar County Democrats in a statement provided to The Texan by the Texas Democratic Party.
“Our local Democrats have taken the last few days to reflect upon this incident. After much discussion — especially among our local Black Democrats — we chose not to accept Mr. O’Connor’s resignation,” they stated.
“Gary O’Connor has led Lamar County Democrats for seven years and his life of service, collaboration, and activism for racial justice is well known throughout this community. His recent remark is incompatible with his core values.”
In the since-deleted Facebook post, O’Connor reportedly called Scott “little more than an oreo with no real principles.”
The term “oreo” is used as a racial slur to criticize someone who “is black on the outside, but white on the inside.”
O’Connor’s comments came after Scott provided the GOP response to President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress last week.
The comments and resignation of O’Connor are reminiscent of a swathe of Texas GOP county chairs who found themselves in hot water last year after sharing conspiracy theories about the death of George Floyd.
But unlike the GOP chairs who were criticized by both the Texas Democrats and dozens of influential Republicans who called for their resignations from the positions, O’Connor has received little pushback from leaders and elected officials within his own party.
The largest criticisms against the northeast Texas Democrat have been from Texas GOP leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX-04), and Texas GOP Chairman Allen West.
However, the Lamar County Democrats did note in their statement, “Lamar County Democrats recommit ourselves to conduct our private conversations and our public social media discussions with anti-racist, pro-reconciling attitudes and language. We strongly condemn bigotry of any kind and will continue our historic efforts to work for justice and equality for all our fellow citizens.”
“Mr. O’Connor has written a public letter of apology to Sen. Tim Scott, and Lamar County Democrats join him in this apology,” said the party.
The apology, posted on their Facebook page reads, “To Sen. Tim Scott, the residents of Lamar County, especially our Black residents, and to my family and friends, I profoundly apologize for the racially insensitive remark I made towards Sen. Scott last week. I was wrong and I apologize.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.