Recent comments by a GOP candidate for the Minnesota House about her DFL opponent's race and sexual orientation have stirred outcry, leading to condemnation by DFL officials.
The controversy stems from a speech made by Ali Jimenez-Hopper, the Republican endorsed candidate in House district 57A, during a May convention. The comments, first reported by online news outlet, The Column, were recorded and published on YouTube.
Jimenez-Hopper faces DFL candidate, Erin Maye Quade, a biracial party activist who is married to a woman.
In her speech, Jimenez-Hopper tells her fellow convention-goers she's the best candidate to face Maye Quade in the general election, characterizing the candidate as a formidable opponent.
"Erin is a big concern," adding "She's well-read in all of her policy. She's really involved with the Democratic side, and that party, and she knows a lot of the bills inside and out."
She then highlights Maye Quade's race and sexual orientation: "She brings up that she is half black, and she uses that as a strength. She brings up that she is in support of LGBT and that lifestyle and she puts out pictures on Twitter of her and her wife,” Jimenez-Hopper said.
She later added: “I believe in the traditional marriage, in the sense that it’s between a husband and wife and God and that family is important. We need to have these values when you go forth and think about your community.”
Maye Quade in a statement called the comments offensive.
"Our community deserves candidates who are focused on substantive issues and divisive comments like these are not what Apple Valley and Lakeville voters want to hear in the campaign,” Maye Quade said. “I’ve been talking to voters throughout the district since last year-and I’ve heard their concerns. I want to focus on the issues that bring us together, not those that divide us."
Jimenez-Hopper in an emailed statement said she's a political novice whose words were misconstrued.
"Unlike my opponent, I am new to the political process and sometimes say things in a way that can be twisted around and out of context by the Democrats," she said. "I apologize to anyone I offended by my comments. As a Hispanic American, it is my hope that voters in Apple Valley judge both of us by where we stand on the issues, and not simply by the color of our skin or who we are married to."
Ken Martin, the DFL Party Chairman, said in a statement that the comments were "prejudicial" and that the GOP Party's "embrace of this toxic rhetoric is a troubling trend that has no place in Minnesota."
The two candidates are both running to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley. Mack stepped down after she and another outgoing legislator, Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, were ticketed for public nuisance last summer.
The pair were found by a Dakota County park ranger in a parked car "making out," a contention they disputed but they nonetheless paid the citation. They are both married to other people.