Blog post draws claims of racism

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A candidate for the Salt Lake County Council is under fire for sounding a little too much like "The Jerk" in a high school reunion blog.

Paul Pugmire wrote in his blog, "I was born a poor black child in Mississippi. No, wait, that is something else. Quick summary since HS ..."

The reference to being "born a poor black child" is a line from the 1979 movie "The Jerk" starring Steve Martin.

The blog post from January 2006 now is drawing claims of racism.

Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairman James Evans, who is African American, tells The Salt Lake Tribune, "There is nothing funny about being a poor black child from Mississippi. It gives me insight into what he thinks about African-Americans."

Pugmire is a Democrat. His Republican opponent, Michael Jensen, tells the paper the blog is "unfortunate."

Pugmire says he's sorry. He also questions the timing of this surfacing with the election a month away.

He tells KSL he understood when he filed for office that politics could be "rough and tumble." Still, he calls it a poor attempt at humor, and he apologizes.

He says when he learned about the story surfacing, he was standing next to his African-American uncle at his step-father's funeral. He says he has worked hard in his life to reduce racial intolerance, which he says is part of why he feels especially bad about the mistake.

The local head of the NAACP says it's clear that it was a joke, but it was in bad taste.


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