A candidate for the Illinois Senate has apologized for a decade-old photo from a Halloween party that depicts him dressed in blackface as a rapper
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A candidate for the Illinois Senate has apologized for a decade-old photo from a Halloween party that depicts him dressed in blackface as a rapper.
Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton told The Belleville News-Democrat that most rappers at the time were black and he didn’t intend the costume to be racist. Patton said he regrets the outfit and apologizes to those it offends.
The photo shows Patton dressed in an orange football jersey with a black bandana on his head and his face painted black. The outfit was part of a couples’ costume, where his wife wore a pink dress to be a piece of bubble gum, Patton said. His costume was meant to be a play on the word ‘wrapper.’
“Looking back, it was a bad choice for an outfit,” Patton said. “I never imagined it would be viewed as a racial image, much less saved by someone for nearly nine years before using it to impugn my character.”
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The newspaper said it obtained the photo from Democratic sources. Patton sought to be the Republican nominee for the Senate seat but was kicked off the primary ballot because he’d signed re-election petitions for a local Democrat. He’s now running as a third-party candidate and has until June 25 to submit more than 5,200 voter signatures to the State Board of Elections.
Patton said the disclosure of the photo is an attempt to damage his campaign. But he said he is used to such moves in politics, noting he has served in public office for almost 20 years as an alderman, county board member and mayor.
“Nothing really surprises me in terms of the nasty tricks opponents will try,” Patton said. “Typically, the more desperate the opponent, the lower they will go.”
Democrat Rachelle Aud Crowe is currently the only candidate on the November ballot for the Senate seat. The local prosecutor said she’d heard rumors of the photo but didn’t try to obtain it. Still, she said “there’s no excuse for blackface.”
“Elected officials should be held to the highest standard,” Crowe said. “They should be dedicated to serving the people they represent, not using stereotypes that divide us.”