- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Political strategist Julius Henson yesterday said he is not working for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Kathleen Kennedy Townsend or the Democratic coordinated campaign, but stood by his remark about Republican nominee Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. being a "Nazi."
"On 9/11 we had a deal, and as things rolled around, they said it was only a negotiation. According to them, I was never hired," Mr. Henson said, adding that he could "definitively" say he is not working for the Townsend campaign any longer.
Mr. Henson was fired from the campaign Friday after he called Mr. Ehrlich a "Nazi" in a telephone interview with The Washington Post.
The Post yesterday quoted Mr. Henson as saying that Karen White, director of the Democratic coordinated campaign, had asked him to stay and work "undercover" in attracting black voters.
David Paulsen, a spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party, said Miss White denied that conversation ever took place.
Miss White did not return calls yesterday.
Mr. Henson yesterday said he would not consider working for Mrs. Townsend since she has called him "despicable" in a television interview.
However, he said he would press for part of the $30,000 fee he was to have been paid over 50 days for working on the coordinated campaign a demand state Democratic officials dismissed, saying Mr. henson had never signed a contract with them.
"I believe there was a contract drawn up. The contract had never been signed, and no money had passed hands. To the best of my knowledge, he has never worked for the campaign or the party or the coordinated campaign, and he won't," Mr. Paulsen said.
"My contract says either party has to give a 30-day notice, and they will have to pay me for something like 37 or 38 days," Mr. Henson said, adding he would pursue the matter in court if necessary.
Mr. Henson, who said his job for the Townsend camp was to get more voters in Maryland's heavily black precincts and "help get a big count out of Prince George's County," said his services had been sought by both the Ehrlich and Townsend campaigns.
Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver said Mr. Henson had come into their office two months ago and asked for an $80,000 fee to work on the campaign for the period remaining before the elections. "He was just shown the door," she said, adding the Ehrlich campaign had not considered him eligible for the job.
Mr. Ehrlich's office released a statement yesterday saying it was "regrettable" that Mrs. Townsend had decided to keep Mr. Henson on the job despite the "divisiveness and extremism" that his remarks represent.
Mr. Henson said he stood by his "Nazi" remark, and that it had been taken wrongly. He also said he had not heard any objections from the Jewish community.
"I did not mean to say he was a member of the Third Reich. It was meant to bring attention to the fact that his voting record was atrocious," Mr. Henson said of Mr. Ehrlich, adding that the Republican candidate had voted against education and black issues. "The purpose was to draw attention to his record. I still stand by it, although it was not intended to hurt anybody."
Jewish leaders said yesterday there had been no particular reaction to Mr. Henson's remark, although the use of the word "Nazi" was always inappropriate.
Rabbi Michael Feshbach of the Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase said he believes the incident had been handled "appropriately and immediately, and it can be quickly put behind everyone."
But the use of the word Nazi is "always inappropriate in any circumstance that I can think of, and it degrades political discourse and civil society, even in cases where we have very strong disagreements with political oponents. The demonization of an opponent is demeaning to us all," he said.
Mr. Henson still continues to work for some candidates independently, including U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn, Maryland Democrat.
Mr. Wynn has backed Mr. Henson as an asset to collect black votes in the state. Yesterday, he said Mr. Henson should continue on the Townsend campaign after being "firmly reprimanded."
"He has clearly made a mistake by calling Mr. Ehrlich a Nazi," Mr. Wynn said, adding that Mr. Henson's remark was not intended to be racist or anti-Semitic. "He was just trying to make a statement on Mr. Ehrlich's voting record in the past on black issues."


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