DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado lawmaker who is under fire for making a controversial remark and referring to a colleague as “Buckwheat” Wednesday told FOX31, “I had no intentions of insulting, hurting anyone’s feelings, or being racial or using a racial slur in anyway,” in an exclusive interview.
Rep. Richard Holtorf, a Republican who represents the eastern part of the state, was speaking about an amendment to a bill when another lawmaker interrupted him.
Holtorf, speaking to the entire House, responded, “I’m getting there. Don’t worry Buckwheat. I’m getting there.”
“Where I’m from in eastern Colorado, as a country boy, I’ve had people call me that term many times. Buckwheat. It has a different connotation where I’m from,” Holtorf told FOX31. “I guess I didn’t have the insight to realize that that would be received in such a negative way.
“Where I’m from, that particular term is used for a younger person, a tyke, a kid, a youngster. You don’t use it in a way that is racial or discriminatory or insulting.”
Rep. Leslie Herod, a Democrat from Denver, was one of many who took issue with the word, that invokes a stereotype from a television show in the 1930’s and 1940’s. She declined multiple requests to talk about the comment but tweeted, “This is what I have to deal with Every. Damn. Day.”
“I’m telling you, I had no intentions of insulting hurting anyone’s feelings or being racial or using a racial slur in anyway,” Holtorf said. “It was actually directed at a representative who’s Hispanic, like me. That’s a veteran and a good friend of mine. And I absolutely had in no way, no desire to insult anybody in the Black Caucus. Absolutely not. I wish I would’ve chosen a different word.”
Holtorf has publicly apologized for the comment twice since Wednesday. He also spent more than an hour talking with the House speaker about the decorum, rhetoric and how said he can help bring people together.
“The racial divisions are so great; the anger is so elevated; the hatred unfortunately is so high, we can’t continue to go on this trajectory,” Holtorf said. “We need to take and show through our actions and our words that we’re going to bridge that gap.
“And in this country, the only way we get to a better place, the only way in this state we get to a better place, is to start to come together and that is the step that I’m going to take. I’ve already started by talking to my colleagues and I’ll continue to talk to my colleagues across the aisle.”