ASHEVILLE, N.C. — An openly gay political operative who has worked on several Republican campaigns in Buncombe County used an anti-gay slur on Twitter to describe an openly lesbian North Carolina House candidate.
Michael Muller said on Thursday that Democratic candidate Susan Wilson was an “ugly old dyke.” Muller once managed a campaign for Wilson’s opponent, Nathan Ramsey. Wilson and Ramsey are vying for the open House District 115 seat representing Buncombe County.
Wilson told qnotes on Friday evening that Muller’s slur was the first time her own sexual orientation had been used in such a blatant attack. Other comments have used insinuations instead, she said.
“There have been references to my not supporting traditional marriage,” Wilson said. “There have been references to my not sharing my constituents’ values.”
Wilson said it was “sad” Muller felt it necessary to resort to name-calling, but she isn’t going to expect an apology from him.
“I’m not going to hold my breath on that,” she said. “Mr. Muller feels that he has to be like every bully on a playground and tear somebody else down in order to make himself feel big and he’s not somebody who is going to feel secure enough — clearly, he doesn’t feel secure enough in his own sexuality — so he doesn’t feel secure enough to offer an apology.”
Wilson also said it would be appropriate for Republican campaigns and party officials to distance themselves from the operative.
“I think most of what Mr. Muller has done is attack, whether it’s been me or some other Democratic candidate, generally in derogatory language,” she said.
Miller did not immediately return this newspaper’s requests for comment.
Buncombe County Republican Party Chairman Henry Mitchell told qnotes that local campaigns have become “nasty.” Regardless, he distanced himself from Muller and his comments.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to do that to any candidate, but Muller is not speaking on behalf of the party,” he said, adding, “Whatever Muller does on his own, he’s not representing the party. He’s not speaking for the party. Whatever he does on his own, I can’t speak for him.”
Mitchell added that Muller had never officially been on the local party’s payroll. Muller is currently assisting another Republican House candidate, Tim Moffitt, who came under fire last month for tweeting, “They should lock up all the gays on their own island. Except for the lesbians. Y’all can have them!” Moffitt later said his Twitter account had been hacked, though locals suspect Muller accidentally sent the message.
Mitchell said he’d reach out to Muller. “I can say something to him. I’ll talk to him privately about it first and see where it goes,” Mitchell said.
Democratic Asheville City Councilmember Gordon Smith, who has been outspoken in his support for LGBT equality initiatives, told qnotes actions like Muller’s have become increasingly more common from local Republicans.
“This is part of a pattern of what we’ve been seeing from the Buncombe County Republican Party and from Buncombe County Republican candidates this election cycle, which is a willingness to name-call and bully and it is not appropriate,” Smith said, adding that candidates working with Muller have a “responsibility for his actions.”
Wilson is one of three openly gay or lesbian candidates seeking election to the North Carolina legislature this year.
[Ed. Note, Oct. 26, 2012, 6:46 p.m. — The original version of this article published Oct. 26, 2012, 6:25 p.m. incorrectly identified Nathan Ramsey as Nathan West. We regret the error.]