A Republican candidate for the New Jersey legislature is in hot water, thanks to a newly-surfaced video of him saying, "You should f--k me," to a woman at a bar. Brian McDowell, a former contestant on The Apprentice who volunteered for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, is running to represent the 38th District in the New Jersey Assembly, but now, he's lost the support of the local Republican Party. But the 41-year-old real estate broker isn't backing down, and says he won't drop out of the race.
"Let me tell you right now," says McDowell, slurring his words, in the short clip. "You should f--k me. It'd be really good! You never know." Politico reports that the clip began circulating South Jersey in early April, and shortly after it did, the Cape May County Republican Party announced that it's pulling its support for McDowell, citing "issues and information" that "places the candidate in a light that is inconsistent with several of the core principles" of the county party.
"Accordingly, we cannot in good conscience support this candidate going forward," the committee wrote in a Facebook post. "A meeting of the Cape GOP Executive Committee will be scheduled in the near future to discuss the organization's position on the upcoming primary contest for N.J. State Assembly."
McDowell, who's running in a Republican primary for the seat, said that the video was taken in March, and that he was speaking to a friend of his. He brushed off the controversy, responding instead by comparing himself to Jesus and noting that he's "not running to be the Pope."
“There are human errors and even Jesus dropped the cross three times,” McDowell told Politico after the video surfaced. “I’m not running to be the Pope. I’m running to make New Jersey more affordable.”
Though all politics are local, it's difficult to not view this story through the lens of Trump, and the infamous Access Hollywood tape that, remarkably, didn't sink his candidacy. In that video, Trump said that when he sees women, he can "grab 'em by the p---y" without consequence, because he's "a star." As many people pointed out, Trump's subsequent election sent a dark, awful message — that advocating for sexual assault does not, apparently, disqualify you from holding the highest office in the land.
McDowell's comments are in a lesser category of offense, of course, as he wasn't bragging about touching women without their consent. But his response to the controversy is telling. His reference to "human errors" appears to be an acknowledgement that his actions were out of line, and yet he conspicuously uses the passive voice to avoid ownership of those errors, and downplays the significance of his comments. It's disrespectful and brutish to tell a woman she should sleep with you (as opposed to, you know, asking her), but McDowell paints himself as a Christ-like figure, and adds that public officials shouldn't be held to very high moral standards to begin with.
It's encouraging, then, to see the local Republican Party is pulling its support of him ahead of the primary (something the national Republican Party refused to do after Trump's much-worse comments). Hopefully, this will send a message that there's still a basic standard of decency to which candidates for public office must adhere — even if they're Republicans.