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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson apologizes to challenger in District 4 County Commission race

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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson apologizes to challenger in District 4 County Commission race

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson

This story has been updated. 

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson has apologized to District 4 County Commission candidate Steve Bradshaw for a robocall that claimed Bradshaw voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.

Johnson’s spokesperson, Andy Phelan said, “That was a lie. It was wrong. It was incorrect.” Johnson made the call on behalf of embattled incumbent District 4 Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. The congressman is now making a robocall correcting the previous robocall. Sutton and Bradshaw will face each other in the July 26 runoff election.

Here’s an audio recording of Johnson’s robocall correcting his earlier robocall in support of Sutton. 

Sutton told Decaturish that she supported Johnson’s decision to make a correction.

“He said, ‘I should apologize. I should make a robocall to correct that.’ I said, ‘You know what? That’s a good thing to do.’ Because I’m not dishonest,” Sutton said. “I never said how he voted in 2012 and 2008. He admitted he said his voting record showed he voted Republican in 2000 and a real Democrat just doesn’t do that. On top of that, many of the positions he’s taken about what is good for District 4 have been the same views of some of his Republican supporters.”

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Phelan said Johnson recorded his message after seeing a deceptively-edited clip of Bradshaw saying he voted for McCain. But Bradshaw was talking about the 2000 primary between McCain and George W. Bush, not the 2008 presidential election. Bradshaw crossed party lines to vote for McCain after the Bush made an issue of McCain’s adopted daughter.

“John McCain has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh which means that her skin color is dark,” Bradshaw said in a a press release. “In the 2000 South Carolina Republican Primary George W. Bush’s forces were running ads targeting certain precincts spreading the false rumor that John McCain had an ‘illegitimate’ black daughter. I know this because an Army buddy of mine who lived in the area called me about it. This tactic struck me as outrageous and despicable.”

He also noted that at the time he voted for McCain, the Democratic primary between Al Gore and Bill Bradley had largely been settled.

Race has been a factor in the contest between Sutton and Bradshaw. Sutton has accused Bradshaw of trying to “hide” his white wife from voters.

In a statement, Bradshaw said he appreciated Johnson’s apology.

“To his credit he sincerely apologized for participating in an automated call containing information that was based on a lie perpetuated by incumbent Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton,” Bradshaw said. “I accepted his sincere apology in the spirit that it was given.”

He said he also received a “significant financial contribution” from Johnson.

Phelan said Johnson has given both candidates $750.

“The congressman wants the people of DeKalb County’s fourth district to decide for themselves who the best person is for that seat, and he wants voters to decide and he wants them,” Phelan said. “He’s given both candidates the same amount of money. He thinks they’re both strong Democrats.”

Sutton and Bradshaw will square off in another debate on Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. The debate will be held at St. Timothy UMC, located at 5365 Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information due to a typographical mistake. This story has been updated with the correct information.