One of two Florida teens criticized by a Sabattus politician issued a blunt call Wednesday for someone to make sure Republican Leslie Gibson faces an opponent in this year’s state House race.
David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., called for “friends in Maine” to take on Gibson.
“Who wants to run against this hate-loving politician?” Hogg asked. “I don’t care what party. JUST DO IT.”
Democrat Eryn Gilchrist of Greene is doing just that.
Gilchrist filed the required paperwork Thursday to run in the 57th District, eliminating the possibility that Gibson could win the seat uncontested,
She said she never anticipated running for office but felt so “horrified and embarrassed” at the thought of Gibson representing her that she decided to jump into the fray.
“I would really have been happy to partake in representative democracy by voting,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist, 28, a Connecticut native who works for a medical device company based in Bowdoin, is a 2013 graduate of Bates College.
“We could not be happier to have Eryn run,” House Speaker Sara Gideon said in a prepared statement. “She is a concerned member of her community who cares about the future of her neighbors — and, like many other Democrats across Maine, she’s now stepping up to help them.”
Phil Bartlett, the state Democratic chairman, said the party is “excited to have Eryn enter this race. We know that she will be a champion for the people of Sabattus and Greene in the State House and will work hard to ensure that what happens in Augusta improves the lives of her neighbors and community members.”
Gilchrist, who is married, said she looks forward “to working hard over the next several months to earn the trust and support of people throughout my community.”
The move follows a firestorm of online criticism from people upset with Gibson’s comments.
Gibson landed in the national spotlight after a Sun Journal story called attention to the retired Navy veteran’s harsh words for Hogg and classmate Emma Gonzalez, both of whom were at school a month ago when a gunman mowed down 17 people.
Hogg, a student journalist, used a cellphone during the Valentine’s Day shooting to document what it was like for his peers trapped in a classroom that day.
He told CNN that he wanted “to show these people exactly what’s going on when these children are facing bullets flying through classrooms.”
In the days after the massacre, Hogg made frequent television and speaking appearances calling for a crackdown on the easy availability of high-capacity guns like the AR-15 used to kill his classmates.
Hogg drew Gibson’s wrath for denouncing a National Rifle Association spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, and claiming she worked with gun manufacturers to control Congress.
“She owns these congressmen. She can get them to do things,” Hogg told the network, adding, “She doesn’t care about these children’s lives.”
Gibson quickly took to to Twitter to call Hogg “a bald-faced liar” and a moron.
He focused on Gonzalez as well after she also took aim at the gun lobby.
“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson wrote.
In another tweet, he said she shouldn’t be called a survivor of the shooting because she was “in a completely different part of the school” at the time.
Gibson, who has declined comment, later issued an apology to Gonzalez.
“Emma, my name is Les Gibson from Maine. I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you,” Gibson wrote. “It was wrong and unacceptable.”
He noted that she is “doing work that is important to you” and added, “I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”
She has not responded to him.
The Maine Republican Party has not said anything about Gibson, but Democrats have denounced him and blasted the GOP for its silence.
The 57th District includes Greene and Sabattus. It has been represented by Stephen Wood, a Republican who can’t run for re-election because he is in his fourth term, the longest he can serve by law. The general election is Nov. 6.
Democrat Eryn Gilchrist submitted campaign paperwork in Augusta Thursday. (Courtesy photo)
Democrat Eryn Gilchrist submitted campaign paperwork in Augusta on Thursday to run against a Sabattus candidate who had harsh words for Florida school shooting survivors. (Courtesy photo)
David Hogg’s tweet about Leslie Gibson.