CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Delegate John Mandt resigned from office Saturday night and ended his reelection bid after allegedly posting anti-gay slurs and other controversial remarks on social media.
Mandt, R-Cabell, who claims the messages were fabricated, said in his resignation letter than he submitted late Saturday to House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, that it would be best for his family and business to step away from office.
“While I have enjoyed my time in public service and thank the people of the 16th District for the opportunity to represent them in the House,” Mandt said in the statement released by the House. “Right now, my focus and priority needs to be on my family and business, and feel it is best at this time to terminate my campaign and make room other individuals to serve the state.”
Mandt’s resignation was effective at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.
In a statement thanking Mandt for his service, Hanshaw said he and Mandt have talked about his situation for several months.
“Earlier this year, Delegate Mandt lost his mother and is now spending significant time caring for his father, family and expanding business ventures. After our discussion, Delegate Mandt concluded that at this time it would be best to step away from public service and focus on the priority matters of his personal life,” Hanshaw said.
Fairness West Virginia issued a release earlier Saturday that said Mandt had been in a conversation with others on social media and had used the word f—t, an anti-gay slur, several times in the thread. He also allegedly used several anti-Muslim slurs.
“These screenshots of Del. John Mandt’s comments embarrass our state and hurt the reputation of the office he holds. He’s always been a vocal opponent of the Fairness Act, and now we know why,” Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider said.
Hanshaw released a separate statement Saturday night focusing on the group text messages.
“I have seen some of the statements that have been posted to social media and have spoken with Delegate Mandt about them,” Hanshaw said. “While Delegate Mandt denies having made them, I want to be very clear: I strongly condemn these comments and this type of rhetoric. I don’t care who said it – it’s wrong and I want everyone to know there is no place for hatred or bigotry in our state, our political discourse or the West Virginia House of Delegates.”
Mandt was seeking reelection in the House’s 16th District.
The Republican Party Executive Committee that covers the 16th Delegate District will have a few weeks to submit three names to Gov. Jim Justice for Mandt’s replacement. Justice will then have five days to name his replacement.
General Election ballots for Mandt’s name on them have already been printed and in some cases mailed to voters. He said Saturday that he’s ending his reelection bid.
Mandt lost his contract to sell hotdogs at Marshall University football games last year. Mandt had been criticized for a vote on a bill that affected the LGBTQ, comments on the LGBTQ group and a post on social media about a vigil in Huntington for victims of a March terror attack in New Zealand on a mosque.