A New Jersey Democrat running for a borough council seat has quit his campaign after Republicans brought to light two incidents in which he hurled racist and homophobic slurs in the same diner, Talking Points Memo reported.
Police in South Plainfield stated that they arrived at the diner on Sept. 1, 2007 to find Joseph Sorrentino yelling “N*gger” through the window with his pants down. Authorities were responding at the time to a complaint that a man mooned a woman and her daughter and called them “sl*ts.”
Sorrentino was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. NJ Advance Media reported that he paid $533 for a fine and court costs in connection with the incident.
Less than a year after that encounter, police responded to reports at the diner that Sorrentino and another man, identified as Anthony Sorrentino, were calling two women at the restaurant “d*kes,” an anti-lesbian slur and threatened to hit them. Sorrentino reportedly said they were actually using it in reference to another woman who was not present. He was not charged in connection with this incident.
On Wednesday, Sorrentino, a special education teacher, released a statement apologizing for his actions and saying
he had dropped his campaign for a seat on the South Plainfield Borough Council.
“I regret what happened, and I have worked every single day to prove that I am not the man that the report says,” Sorrentino’s statement read.
Sorrentino was running as part of the South Plainfield Democratic Organization, a ticket with Chrissy Buteas, who is running for mayor, and another council candidate, Joe Lambert.
“This in no way reflects on the Joe Sorrentino we know today as a dedicated teacher and coach, and positive influence on the lives of everyone around him,” Buteas and Lambert said in a joint statement. “What’s most disappointing is that the Republicans will stoop so low as to seek to personally destroy him for something that happened years ago and for which he has not only apologized with his words, but also his actions.”
Incumbent Mayor Matt Anesh (R) told NJ Advance Media that, when his party screened Sorrentino for an endorsement last year, he denied having anything “controversial” in his past. South Plainsfield GOP spokesperson Bob Jones released a separate statement criticizing Buteas for refusing to “condemn” Sorrentino.
“Instead of blaming Republicans, she should be addressing what happened,” Jones’ statement read. “Her former running mate verbally assaulted four women and physically threatened one according to two separate police reports. It was not a one-time incident.”