Lawmaker's racially charged rant against opponent draws criticism

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HEMPSTEAD -

A state lawmaker from Long Island is facing criticism for a racially charged rant against her opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary.

Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper made the remarks to her constituents at a candidate forum in Hempstead Thursday. The deputy state Assembly speaker is facing a primary challenge from another African-American woman, political newcomer Taylor Raynor.

Speaking for more than five minutes, the 30-year incumbent never mentioned her opponent by name, but appeared to liken Raynor to a slave working on the behalf of Nassau County Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, who is white.

"When we are on plantations, and someone decided to run away, and the person who happened to be in the master's good graces would tell on Big Jim, who's planning to run away when it's dark. That's what's happened now. We have a plantation," Hooper said.

She added, "White man fooled us out of Africa. Don't let him fool you out of a seat where you have power."

Raynor is accusing Hooper of trying to "divide and conquer" a district of mostly minority voters. She's calling on Hooper to apologize.

"She insinuated that I was a slave," Raynor says. "She never mentioned one thing that she's actually accomplished within the district."

Jacobs says Hooper's comments are "discrediting."

"The remarks are really, really about as bad as they get. I think she should apologize, but I won't hold my breath," Jacobs says.

News 12 contacted Hooper for comment but has not received a response.

Some Hempstead residents, like Jamal Glenn, say they're shocked to hear terms like "plantation" used at a political forum.

But others say the assemblywoman has built up goodwill in the community for years and she still has their votes.

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