Patton apologizes for blackface photo; hopes voters won't jump to conclusions
Hal Patton is hoping voters are willing to consider his full body of work before making any rash judgments about his candidacy in the 56th Senate District.
Patton is facing a backlash in his run against Rachelle Aud Crowe, a Democrat from Glen Carbon, after a more than 10-year-old Halloween party photo of him in blackface was made public.
“Having served the public for almost 20 years as an Edwardsville alderman, Madison County board member, and now as mayor, I have been on the ballot 10 different times and involved in many challenging races, Patton said in a statement. “So nothing really surprises me in terms of the nasty tricks opponents will try. Typically, the more desperate the opponent, the lower they will go.”
In the photo obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat, Patton is dressed in an orange football jersey, wearing a black bandana with his face is painted black.
While insisting that nothing about his look was meant to be racist, Patton admits that over the years he’s faced numerous threats about it being made public.
“Looking back, it was a bad choice for an outfit,” he added, while claiming the choice was made in coordination with his wife’s bubble gum look with him as the “wrapper.”
He added the outfit was not at all about race, and the blackface can be attributed to the fact that at the time most rappers were African-American.
“I regret it and apologize to those it offends,” he added in his statement. “I never imagined it would be viewed as a racial image, much less saved by someone for nearly nine years before using it to impugn my character. Anyone that knows me, knows that I do not judge people by their race or nationality. I grew up in a household that taught how to love others, not to hate them.”
As for the photo now being made public, Patton chalked it up to Democrats playing dirty politics. He told the Belleville-News he is convinced they “will do anything” to remain in power in Springfield.
“This is the second desperate act taken against me in this election cycle,” he added. “Clearly, my opponent and her allies will use any methods, no matter how pathetic, to maintain power and control of our political system in Illinois. The more I get into trying to change the dysfunction in Springfield, the more disgusted I get.”
Patton is now running as a third-party candidate after being booted off the Republican ballot because he also signed the re-election petitions for state Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville). Signing the petitions of a candidate from another party is not allowed.