GOP nominee Brenton Davis linked to questionable online comments, Democrats say – GoErie.com
Republican nominee for Erie County executive Brenton Davis has been linked to a rash of social media comments that critics say are not only anti-democratic but offensive to women and the LGBTQ community.
Davis is pointing fingers at a local Democrat for “trolling” him and twisting his words.
The comments, which stretch back to 2015, stem from Davis’ public Facebook page and Twitter feed.
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In a series of posts, Davis accused Democrats of “creating ballots” in the 2018 midterm elections, encouraged someone to be “well armed” against a potential attack by the U.S. government and compared COVID-19 public health measures to Nazi-era Germany.
Davis also blasted Democrats for opening cities to refugees, imposing socialism and allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military — a decision he referred to as an unnecessary “social experiment.”
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Davis, 38, also made comments that social media users and Democratic officials interpreted as misogynistic.
In August 2018, Davis reposted a meme stating that “dating in your 30s is like finding a parking space, all the good ones are taken and the rest are handicapped.”
The following year, Davis replied to a tweet from then-Sen. Kamala Harris, who criticized President Donald Trump for “exchanging love letters” with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un.
Davis replied to her account: “We all know the love you ‘exchange’ doesn’t come in letter form.”
“This is the raw, authentic Brenton Davis,” said Democrat Jay Breneman, former Erie County Councilman and nominee for the Erie School Board.
Breneman, an ardent Davis critic, said he collected screenshots of Davis’ social media comments and created a website and Facebook group page to display them.
Davis’ Democratic opponent for county executive, Tyler Titus called them part of Davis’ “extremist past” and “deeply out of step with Erie County values.”
Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Wertz said, “No amount of campaign smoothing or flip-flopping can undo the anti-democratic, anti-pandemic, anti-vaccine comments that he’s made over time — and it should bring pause to any voter.”
Verel Salmon, chairman of the Erie County Republican Party, emphasized the right of free speech in America but added that Davis has displayed “wonderful growth” over the years.
“I’ve just been absolutely amazed at how much (Davis) has matured and refined,” Salmon said. “There is in my mind no (doubt) in this election that Brenton Davis has the background and training for the office.”
Davis blasted critics — namely Breneman — for setting up a satirical “trolling account” on social media to discredit his candidacy.
He insisted Breneman had a history of attacking Republican candidates and that he “wasn’t surprised” the Democrat’s name was doing so again.
“This is no better than the KKK,” Davis said. “If you need to hide your face and do things in the cover of darkness to do ‘justice,’ you’re no better than that kind of terrorism.”
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Davis said he handed control of his social media accounts to his staff during the campaign. He couldn’t confirm which comments they might have deleted.
Davis added that many of his comments were also taken out of context, edited from their full post or “rejumbled” completely.
Regarding the “dating” meme, Davis said it wasn’t meant to be a derogatory comment about women.
“Me being 30 years old and service-disabled — it was funny,” Davis said. “People can’t even laugh about anything anymore. Anyone dating in their 30s knows it’s difficult.”
He also embraced the news that Afghan refugees would be coming to Erie, according to a recent campaign statement.
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“The (Titus campaign) doesn’t have policy to run on, ” Davis said. “They’re just trying to deflect from the actual issues.”
A.J. Rao can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNRao.