A state senator apologized Monday for using a racial slur during an argument with another legislator, a blunder that prompted some black leaders to press for his resignation.
“I realize this has been very hurtful to members of the African-American community and for that I am truly sorry,” Republican Sen. Alex Deccio said on the Senate floor. “I feel if the Rev. Martin Luther King were here today, he would accept my apology, so I’m asking you to do the same.”
Some black leaders said they would accept the 81-year-old lawmaker’s apology only if he resigned.
“This individual is not deserving of being a representative of the people,” said Carl Mack, president of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP. He traveled to Olympia on Monday to demand Deccio’s resignation.
Deccio used the slur Thursday during a heated argument with Rep. Tom Campbell, another Republican, about health insurance reforms.
He called Campbell a “n----- in the woodpile.” Both men are white.
Deccio said he instantly realized his mistake and apologized during the meeting. On Friday, he apologized in person to Democratic Sen. Rosa Franklin, Washington’s only black state senator.
On Monday, Franklin tearfully accepted his apology during a speech on the Senate floor, though she said the slur “sears like a branding iron.”
Afterward, Deccio crossed the Senate floor and hugged Franklin.
The senator said he does not intend to step down. “This should be put behind us,” he said.