City Councilman Wayne New said he was once a Dixiecrat, aligning himself with a racist splinter group of the Democratic party that opposed integration, during a District 10 forum Thursday night.
After challenger Chris Hinds questioned New’s politics, the incumbent responded, “This is a nonpartisan race and politics don’t enter into it and I don’t know why you’re bringing it into it so strongly. I’ve been a Republican, I’ve been a Democrat, I’ve been a Dixiecrat, I’ve been an independent now for six or seven years.”
On Friday, New, who is from Georgia, apologized in a statement. He told Denverite that he would not have used the term had he known what it meant.
“I feel like an idiot,” he said in an interview. “The only thing I ever knew about Dixiecrats is what my parents told me — that a Dixiecrat is conservative fiscally and cared about social issues. I always thought it was so positive.”
The Dixiecrat Party was formed in the South the year New was born, in 1948. It was a response to New Deal policies, the labor movement and the Democratic Party’s civil rights platform during the 1948 presidential election. The group favored segregation under the pretense of states’ rights.
“If I have offended anyone with the use of the word, I apologize and can assure all that it will never be used again,” New said in a statement.
Hinds would not speculate on whether New understood what the term meant.
“He either knew what he was saying and was following the playbook that Donald Trump is using, or he didn’t know what he was saying,” Hinds said. “And if he doesn’t know what he was saying during a debate on City Council, I’m not sure he should be on City Council.”