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The Nebraska Democratic Party has pulled support for Senate nominee Chris Janicek and is urging him to withdraw from the race after learning of a sexually inappropriate message he allegedly sent to a female campaign staffer.
Janicek, who is set to square off against incumbent Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., this November, reportedly made the crude remark in a group text sent to five others, including the female staffer, who has since quit the campaign.
“Our Democratic Party has no tolerance for sexual harassment,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said in a statement. “Our party will not extend resources or any type of support to any candidate that violates our code of conduct and doesn’t treat men and women with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
According to The Associated Press, which obtained the messages, Janicek had asked the group, in reference to the female staffer, if the campaign should spend money on “getting her laid,” adding, “It will probably take three guys,” and described a graphic hypothetical situation involving the woman having group sex.
Janicek then apologized to the group and said it was “a joke.”
“I’m going on no sleep and a bunch of exuberant excitement and I think I was out of line,” he said, according to the AP.
According to the Nebraska Democratic Party, the woman sent a copy of the message to them last week, and on Thursday NDP officers demanded that Janicek decline the party’s Senate nomination. If he withdraws, the party would be able to name a new candidate.
On Monday, Janicek said he was staying in the race and the woman filed a formal complaint against him with the party, the NDP said. That evening, the NDP’s State Executive Committee unanimously voted to pull all party resources from his campaign.
Janicek told the AP that the party wanted him out because he opposes more liberal stances on issues including gun control and abortion. He said they were using the recent controversy “as a crutch.”
The woman’s attorney, Vincent Powers, told the AP that Janicek apologized to her in person, but that the woman does not accept it and she wants him out of the race.
“People go to work for Democratic candidates in an underdog race because they’re idealists,” Powers said. “So when you get a text like this, it’s just devastating.”
Janicek defeated six other candidates in the Nebraska Democratic primary race. One of his opponents, Alisha Shelton, said she would now campaign as a write-in candidate for November’s election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.