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Riemer stumbles over Tea Party racism claim in Montgomery debate

Democrat Hans Riemer stumbled into a gaffe in the final moments of a debate Wednesday night among candidates seeking the four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council.

Earlier in the Rockville debate, Republican candidate Mark D. Fennel, membership director for the Washington-based group Citizens Against Government Waste, said he considers himself a Tea Party activist.

In his closing remarks, Riemer said the audience had heard something important.

"Think about that for a moment. What would it be like to have a Tea Party candidate on the Montgomery County Council?" Riemer said. Then Riemer added: "The Tea Party is associated with racism."

That prompted loud howls and boos from the crowd of 30, which included conservative activists. When a moderator said the audience should "keep it respectful," retired public school teacher Carolyn Darne yelled out from the crowd: "Respect? He just called us racist."

When it was Fennel's turn to speak, he calmly challenged Riemer, asking "Were you referring to me as a racist?"

"I don't think so," Fennel continued. "My spouse is from Honduras. My son is half Honduran. I hope you're not referring to me as a racist, especially considering that she's half African-American as well, and half Hispanic."

"And I wasn't, I wasn't," Riemer said.

Then Fennel went back to talking about county budget problems.

After the debate, Riemer said he reiterated to Fennel directly that he wasn't "casting any aspersions on him or anybody else personally" with the comment about racism.

Darne, a registered Republican who said she has attended Tea Party functions, was still fuming.

"He was calling us racist," she said. "They think they can pick up some minority votes by trotting out that term. We're just not going to take it anymore."

Riemer pointed to a report released by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People earlier Wednesday.

NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in the foreword that while "the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will," the study found "links between certain Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups in the United States."

By Michael Laris  | October 20, 2010; 10:18 PM ET
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The tea party is associated with racism- they are not all racist but some are- I've seen their signs and so have you.

Posted by: silverspring25 | October 21, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

McCarthyism---guilt by association---that is what Riemer was talking last night.

Mark Fennel doesn't have a racist bone in his body. But the tea party had been mentioned in connection with nobody but Fennel last night. Riemer is so used to appealing to the 8% of all voters who control the Democratic Primary that apparently forgot that he was not in front of a Democratic Primary debate crowd.

At the same time Riemer produced ZERO examples of waste in the county budget, while Fennel, of Citizens Against Govvernment Waste produced a large chart of 15 examples.

Posted by: robinficker | October 21, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Hans Riemer gets my vote. Finally an honest politician who speaks his mind.
He just said the tea party is "associated" with racism. He didn't say everyone in the tea party was a racist or everything they support is racist.
I've seen the rallies and heard the rheteroic and agree with his statement.
There is a strong element of racism associated with the tea party and until they admit it and ferret it out, it will stain them.

Posted by: MarilynManson | October 21, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

They have all said it well...Tea Party is "associated' with racists and racism...period

Posted by: fairness3 | October 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

How about those people with the NAACP? That is a racist group.

Posted by: jhaas68865 | October 21, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Always know your audience.

The Democratic Party is also associated with racism. That doesn't mean I'll go saying that in a room full of diehard Dems.

Posted by: FedUpInMoCo | October 21, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"Hans Riemer gets my vote."

Are you kidding?!

I mean I agree that a lot of -- if not most -- Tea Party "activists" are creepy mofos who viscerally despise people of color, like our president, but making the kind of ridiculously obvious (and tame) statement that Riemer made during this debate won't get my vote.

What's Riemer going to do to help boost opportunity and quality of life in the county -- that's what I care about.

Posted by: FedUpInMoCo | October 21, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"FedUpInMoCo" wrote, in part:

What's Riemer going to do to help boost opportunity and quality of life in the county -- that's what I care about.

+++ +++ +++ +++

Well, he certainly will not come out for more and better enforcement of Housing Code.

As we all know, enforcing the County Code limits on home overcrowding, paving your lawn after cutting down every tree, and parking your work fleet in a residential neighborhood on your paved lawn, that's always racist. Just ask any "latino"!

Posted by: thardman | October 21, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

A vote for Riemer? Did you attend the debate? Did you hear his platform? Mr. Riemer's solution to Montgomery County's transportation issues is for citizens to bike and hike more. He has no experience and he will not add anything positive to the County Council. His derogatory remark about racism is a low mark for county politics and should not be tolerated. I am the person referenced in the article and I was misquoted and only half quoted -- my actual words were: We should be quiet? He is the one calling us racists! When asked why Mr. Riemer would say something like that, my response was that I didn't know -- perhaps he thinks that he can make us be quiet, but that we are not racist and that we will not be quieted. This tactic won't work anymore! We are against government growth and high taxes and tired of elected officials not reading the bills and spending our money. When the reporter wanted more -- I added maybe he is just trying to gin up minority votes and I followed that up with -- that won't work either. I am surprised that after sitting through the entire debate, the Post writer only came away with this bit of info -- as if Mr. Riemer purposefully made the comment that was so out of place from the rest of the debate and from any other county politics. I did notice that Mr. Riemer approached the Post reporter immediatela following the debate for a lengthy discussion. Planned? Staged? Perhaps.
There was so much more important information provided at this forum -- like candidates with plans to cut spending and boost employment in the county. Byer, Fennel, Uncapher, and Rappeon all had sound fiscal plans. The incumbents and Mr. Riemer blamed the blame game -- blaming Bush, Ehrlich, and the Tea Party for the problems of the county and the final incumbent offered new commissions to study the problems. Time for real change and balance on the County Council.

Posted by: abcdnw | October 25, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

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