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Whitman disavows "proud racist" councilman

January 29, 2010 |  3:32 pm

A Santa Clarita councilman has declared that he is a “proud racist.” But Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate for governor, is apparently not proud to have his endorsement.

After state Democrats called on her to address the remarks by Councilman Bob Kellar, Whitman’s campaign disavowed them today and removed his name from a lengthy list of supporters on her website.

"Bob Kellar's remarks stoke the worst type of political dialogue," campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said in a statement. “Meg is running for governor to help bring Californians together for a common purpose.  Mr. Kellar's comments are unacceptable.  He has voluntarily ended his limited involvement with our campaign."

Earlier today, state Democratic Chairman John Burton had said Whitman should deal with the issue and the party sent out a news release to the same effect.

"You cannot control what any of your supporters say or do, but if they are publicly supporting you, you have a duty to disassociate yourself or embrace the remarks, or comment on the remarks," Burton said in an interview.

Kellar, the former Santa Clarita mayor, made the comments earlier this month at a rally against illegal immigration. Before the controversial remarks, Kellar said he had quoted former President Theodore Roosevelt as saying, “one flag, one language,” at a council meeting several years back.

"The only thing I heard back from a couple of people: 'Bob, you sound like a racist,' " Kellar recalled. “I said, 'That's good. If that's what you think I am because I happen to believe in America, I'm a proud racist. You're darn right I am.' "

Since making the comments, Kellar has suggested he was taken out of context by critics, but declined to apologize.

--Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento