Dan Johnson, the Republican nominee for Kentucky House of Representatives in the 49th District, has defied the state party’s request to drop out of the race after he posted offensive images on Facebook.
The Republican Party of Kentucky sent Johnson a public letter asking him to withdraw from the race after Johnson came under fire for posting images depicting President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as apes. He also posted several images that disparaged Muslims.
Johnson, who is running against Democratic incumbent Linda Belcher of Shepherdsville, said Tuesday he will remain in the race.
“Linda Belcher must be replaced in Frankfort by someone willing to take a sledgehammer to the status quo in Frankfort and I will be that person,” Johnson said in a written statement. “I appreciate all the support I’ve been given here in the district and look forward to being part of making Kentucky great again.”
The letter calling for Johnson to step aside, which was signed by Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, said Johnson’s social media posts lacked judgment.
“The tone and content of your social media posts are inconsistent with the values of the Republican Party and have no place in the political arena,” the letter said. “They demonstrate a total disrespect for a number of minority communities and your comments after the fact show either a lack of understanding or concern for how offensive this action is to respectable people of any race.”
Johnson, the bishop of Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, has said his posts were meant to be satire and that he is not racist.
He has made much of his Facebook account private since it came under scrutiny. It now displays images of him with diverse religious leaders and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.