South Carolina Democrats are calling on Gov. Nikki Haley to remove a man with ties to a white supremacist group from her re-election campaign. But her campaign director questioned the racial intentions of a man working to re-elect an Indian-American governor.
The attention is over Mauldin native Roan Garcia-Quintana, a Cuban-American conservative grassroots activist with Tea Party ties. Garcia-Quintana is the executive director of Americans Have Had Enough, which pushes for stricter enforcement of immigration laws.
He is also one of 164 co-chairs in Haley’s unofficial re-election effort. Unofficial, because Haley has not yet said whether she will run for a second term in 2014.
But Garcia-Quintana is also listed as a board member on the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Among the CCC’s position is that the American government and people “should remain European in their composition and character.”
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) and State Sen. Joel Lourie (D-Columbia) sent a letter to Gov. Haley Friday asking that she remove Garcia-Quintana from her campaign.
“South Carolina is losing the majority of our educated young people to other states in the region, and this kind of backwards thinking will only drive them and their talent further away,” the pair wrote. Rutherford is African-American, while Lourie is Jewish.
Garcia-Quintana insists he is not racist, saying that he is pushing for a minority governor’s re-election. He told The State newspaper that the council simply supports “Caucasian heritage.”
“Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage? Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?” Garcia-Quintana told the newspaper. “Racist is when you hate somebody so much that you want to destroy them.”
Haley’s campaign director and former chief-of-staff Tim Pearson said the governor would not remove the activist. “There is nothing racial about this Cuban-American’s participation in the political process, nor his support for the first Indian-American governor and the first African-American U.S. senator in South Carolina history (Sen. Tim Scott),” he said in a brief statement.