Voters have re-elected Republican John Mandt Jr. just months after he resigned from his position in the West Virginia House of Delegates following the release of anti-LGBTQ messages he allegedly sent to a Facebook chat group. Mandt was reelected by a slim margin of 71 votes.
Mandt claimed the leaked messages which contained anti-gay slurs and other disparaging remarks were fabricated, but at least one person authenticated them according to the Herald Dispatch.
The newspaper says the Facebook chat group “The Right Stuff,” which included conservative lawmakers in the state as well as candidates for office, used “anti-gay and anti-Muslim language, and uses anti-gay slurs and other disparaging remarks about other delegates, candidates in the District 16 race, the president of the Senate and the mayor of Huntington. At one point, Mandt allegedly uses the word f—-t, widely recognized in the LGBTQ community as one of the most offensive anti-gay slurs.”
“Silly Fa*got, Dicks are for chicks!!” Mandt allegedly wrote in the chat group.
One of the state’s two openly gay legislators, Cody Thompson (D-Randolph), said seeing the messages was hurtful, especially following statements made by now-outgoing Del. Eric Porterfield about the LGBTQ community in the past two sessions.
“It hurts. It really … I work with these people. We don’t always agree on policy, and that’s fine,” Thompson said. “I don’t always agree with some of the policy my fellow Democrats propose, and I don’t always agree with some of the policies some of the Republicans propose. In general I’m very proud of a lot of things we can work together on for the betterment of the people of West Virginia, but when it comes down to seeing these comments, it’s really hard to work with those who, they may smile to my face and talk to me, but behind closed doors or in conversations with others they use homophobic slurs.”
Thompson said he was open to speaking with Mandt about the situation.
“This is something that needs a long conversation in how we address this, how we move forward, how we rectify and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
“We need to remember that Del. Mandt’s comments reflect more than just his personal views,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness WV, in a statement about the messages. “He carries these views with him every day into the Capitol, and they’ve clearly affected how he represents the people of his district.”