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Huizenga compares Davidson supporters to ‘third-graders’

By Sydney Smith/The Holland Sentinel • Oct 20, 2018 at 10:30 AM

HOLLAND — After a debate Monday night, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga called supporters of his Democratic opponent “Deadheads,” stating they “acted like third-graders.”

“For those of you who were there, that’s what you saw, right? And it was quite shameful, really,” the Zeeland Republican said. “They acted like third-graders. Now, maybe third-graders might not have acted quite that way.”

The comments by Huizenga, who is running for re-election for his seat to represent Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District, were recorded during the Ottawa County GOP’s Reagan Day dinner at CityFlats in downtown Holland, which took place Oct. 16, the day after the candidates debated at Newaygo High School.

Huizenga discussed supporters of Dr. Rob Davidson, a Democrat from Spring Lake. A recording of a portion of his comments was posted Wednesday on Medium.com by the Michigan Democratic Party.

A full transcript of the 1 minute 13 second video: “I do want to talk a little bit about the election and what’s going on. We’ve got 21 days. Alright? We had a debate last evening — it was up in Newaygo. And — you all know what Deadheads are, right? Deadheads are the folks that travel around, following the Grateful Dead. Well, we’ve got the political equivalent with my opponent. He’s got a group of folks that are traveling around with him everywhere he goes and last night we had somewhere around 500-600 people in the gymnasium up in Newaygo. They were, by the way, complaining that it wasn’t big enough. They wanted to have more. We had a few folks there. But about a 10th of what they had. They were loud. They were raucous. They were demanding. And it’s really not much fun to be at a debate with somebody going at you the whole time. For those of you who were there, that’s what you saw, right? And it was quite shameful, really. They acted like third-graders. Now, maybe third-graders might not have acted quite that way.”

Monday’s debate took place in the school’s gymnasium, with the candidates at the center of the gym floor and attendees nearly filling the bleachers on either side. It was clear Davidson had drawn in more supports than Huizenga, though both candidates received cheers from their supporters throughout the debate.

Members of the audience did make comments toward Huizenga a few times during some of his answers to approximately 10 questions during the 90-minute debate. That included booing at him during a response on whether there should be a limit to the amount of money candidates can accept from special interests outside of their district.

“We’re back to constitutionality,” Huizenga said, which drew booing from the audience. He responded with: “I don’t know why you guys don’t like the Constitution.”

Before the debate, a statement on civility was read by the moderator, emphasizing respect and tolerance.

Davidson responded through his campaign, saying Huizenga should “publicly apologize to the constituents he insulted.”

″(Huizenga) can call me names and belittle me, not people who are his constituents and who want to hear answers from their congressman, especially after he’s been avoiding them for more than a year,” Davidson said in a statement.

Jim Barry, Huizenga’s campaign manager, said Huizenga’s comments referred to those who followed The Grateful Dead around, called “Deadheads.”

“We recognize many of the same faces we’ve seen ever since our Democrat opponent launched his political campaign at an official congressional town hall over a year ago,” Barry said.

Despite Huizenga mentioning Monday’s debate in his comments, Barry said he was not specifically referring to the crowd in Newaygo, or all of Davidson’s supporters.

“Even at the debate, there were a lot of thumbs down, funny faces, hissing — but it’s a continuation of how they’ve behaved through the entire campaign,” he said.

An audio clip of the remarks is on The Holland Sentinel website.

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