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New Castle County GOP party chair resigns following controversy over use of homophobic slur

Delaware Public Media

Two local Republican party officials face criticism for online remarks seen as anti-Semitic and homophobic.


New Castle County GOP Chair Chris Rowe has resigned, state Republican party leadership says. Some Republicans in the General Assembly called for Rowe’s resignation after he used a homophobic slur in a comment on Facebook. He later defended the comment, calling the conversation “locker room talk.”

Sussex County GOP Vice-Chair Nelly Jordan is also coming under fire over recent online comments about national politics seen as anti-Semitic. 

State Sen. Anthony Delcollo was among the Republican legislators who publicly condemned the comments and called for both officials’ resignations. “With Ms. Jordan it was moreso the way she was using otherwise benign words. With Mr. Rowe it was really the use of a slur. I was just pretty beside myself with it. ”

Delcollo says the comments made by Rowe and Jordan do not represent the Republican party in Delaware. 

“The vast majority of people that have responded to [my statement], including a large number of Republicans, have agreed with me and thanked me for standing up for what’s right," he said. "My hope is that people will see that that’s the real character of folks who also happen to be Republicans.”

Rowe was appointed to his position. Chair of the Republican Party of Delaware Jane Brady said in a statement that she asked for his resignation and that his comment “did not reflect the values of respect and tolerance held dear by the Delaware Republican Party.” Brady called Nelly Jordan’s comments “offensive, hurtful and anti-Semitic,” but said the process for seeking Jordan’s removal is different, since she was elected.  Brady adds Jordan now faces the choice to resign or go through a process seeking her removal.


Don Petitmermet, chairman of the Sussex County Republic Party, put out a statement Thursday afternoon saying the party welcomes all regardless of color, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. 

"The actions of [Sussex County Republican Party] Vice-Chair Nelly Jordan are my concern and I take the situation very seriously," he said in a statement. "The SCRP has procedures for evaluating the conduct of our members and holding them accountable where required.  The procedures have been used in the past and will be scrupulously adhered to in this case as well."

Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm saw the GOP's move Thursday as overdue.  "GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady's tepid initial response, which completely ignored the specifics and severity of the comments and failed to call for resignations (or any accountability measures for that matter), is beyond disappointing, particularly at a time when deadly violence targeting Jewish Americans is spiking across the country and protections for LGBTQ+ Americans are being rolled back by the White House," he said in a statement. 

Raser-Schramm also accused the party of silence in the face of other divisive or intolerant rhetoric, both nationally and locally. 


This story has been updated to include comment from Don Petitmermet.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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