A New York politician campaigning for State Senate called black MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry a “damn dirty ape” on Twitter.
Jim Coughlan, the Republican comptroller for Duchess County, made the comment in a reply to a tweet from conservative blogger David Burge, who criticized Harris-Perry’s 2013 public education ad stating that “kids belong to whole communities” not just their parents and families.
“Unless you're my wife don't call them 'our' children,” wrote Burge.
“Keep your stinking paws off my kid, you damned dirty ape,” Coughlan wrote in his retweet.
When the New York Daily News confronted Coughlan about his statement, he said the tweet wasn’t a reference to her race. In fact, he said he had no idea that Harris-Perry was black.
He said it’s just a “well-known quote from Planet of the Apes.”
"I don't watch MSNBC," he told the Daily News. "I don't know about their stories or their journalists.”
Dutchess County legislator Gwen Johnson (D) said it doesn’t matter whether or not he knew Harris-Perry’s race.
“If you’re a public official and you’re running ... you should know what you’re tweeting about and who you’re tweeting about.”
"This is irresponsible," Johnson added. “As an African-American woman, I find this very insulting and appalling.”
Even Republicans distanced themselves from Coughlan.
"Jim Coughlan is toxic," one politician told the Daily News. “The Democrats are dying to run against him in November because they know he's the best chance they have of keeping this seat in Democratic hands."
Coughlin says he’s not worried about his critics.
"It's despicable," he said. "They're trying to get me to drop out."