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Lewiston mayor 'appalled' by candidate's comments that some voters are racist

The Mayor of Lewiston says he's appalled over comments made by Ben Chin, who's running to replace him, and is calling on Chin to explain e-mails that referred to some voters as racist. (WGME)

LEWISTON (WGME) -- The Mayor of Lewiston says he's appalled over comments made by Ben Chin, who's running to replace him, and is calling on Chin to explain e-mails that referred to some voters as racist.

The internal e-mails were sent by Chin and reportedly leaked by a campaign insider before being published on a website with no byline or attribution.

Mayor Bob MacDonald is termed out, but keeping an eye on the race to replace him. He said he's appalled over comments made by Chin that were recently published by The Maine Examiner.

The first e-mail, dated June 15, was published on Sunday. In it, Chin recounts a night of campaigning in Ward 6, describing "very intense differences between the working class and lower income sides" and ending the message by saying he encountered a "bunch of racists too."

In another e-mail sent over the summer, Chin describes voters in a section of Ward 7 as "high partisan folks," who are less undecided, "having a higher concentration of racists."

"He is insulting the people of Lewiston, calling everyone a racist," said MacDonald. "If you don't agree with him, you're a racist. Well, no you're not, okay, and I want to know what his definition of a racist is."

Chin said that's not accurate and he would encourage voters to read the e-mails for themselves.

"What I was talking about is the simple fact of the matter that, unfortunately, when you're out campaigning you hear people say nasty things," Chin said.

Chin said he didn't want to waste any more time talking about the e-mails. For now, his focus is on issues like job creation and the opioid epidemic, plus finishing the campaign strong.

Chin will face off against City Councilor Shane Bouchard in a runoff election for mayor on December 12.

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