Leslie Gibson, a Republican candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, has dropped out of the campaign after backlash to his comments insulting two of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
Gibson was running unopposed for the state's 57th district House seat, until he tweeted insulting remarks about Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, two of the most high-profile and outspoken student activists to come out of the Feb. 14 shooting. Both of the teenagers have rallied young people in support of gun law reform and violence prevention.
"There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you're a frothing at the mouth moonbat," Gibson wrote of the 18-year-old Gonzalez. He also called Hogg, 17, a "bald-faced liar." The politician has since deactivated his Twitter account.
Hogg, who has gained a considerable following on social media, tweeted his encouragement to anyone looking to run against Gibson. "Hey freinds [sic] in Maine! Who wants to run against this hate loving politician he's is running UNOPPOSED RUN AGAINST HIM I don't care what party JUST DO IT," he wrote.
Hey freinds in Maine! Who wants to run against this hate loving politician he's is running UNOPPOSED RUN AGAINST HIM I don't care what party JUST DO IT. https://t.co/vRR7p1ZHKf— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 14, 2018
On Friday, a Republican — Thomas H. Martin Jr., and a Democrat — Eryn Gilchrist, had both joined the race, according to The New York Times. Martin told the outlet that Gibson's comments "gave the state a black eye."
"They weren't the true feelings of the state or the Republican Party — or any party — I have to believe," he said.
"I never thought I would run for office, and I was perfectly content with just remaining a member of the community," wrote Gilchrist in a statement published by the Maine Democratic party. "But after reading Mr. Gibson's comments I thought that the people of Greene and Sabattus deserved a representative who will respect people and try to work through their differences to make our lives better."
Gibson not only deactivated his personal Twitter account, he made his campaign account private following the incident. However, before doing so, he tweeted an apology to Gonzalez, according to the Press Herald.
"I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you," he wrote. "It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you."
It’s what he deserves ☕️ https://t.co/NvXx6fKjYV— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@Sarahchadwickk) March 17, 2018
As far as his exit from the race goes, Gibson told the outlet, "I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high" on Friday.