‘Unwavering conservative’ politician Robbie Gatti doesn’t think wearing blackface is racist

Move over Mike Yenni. There’s a new Republican politician from Louisiana making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Meet Robbie Gatti. He’s currently running for a seat in the Louisiana state legislature in a special election later this month. He calls himself an “unwavering conservative” who is “100% anti-abortion,” “100% pro-second amendment,” and 100% committed to continuing the “religious liberty fight.” A lifetime member of the NRA, he has a wife and two kids, works as a physical therapist, and is an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

He’s also appears to be kind of racist.

Related: Republican Lawmaker Finally Talks About Sexting With Catholic School Boy, Insists He’s Not Gay

This week, the local politics site The Hayride unearthed a picture of Gatti from several years ago gleefully smiling while wearing blackface. The picture was apparently taken during a Halloween party at Gatti’s church back in 2002.

After the photo leaked, Gatti issued the following statement on Facebook:

15 years ago, my church held a fall festival, where all the volunteers were told to dress as a famous person. Tiger Woods was at the height of his popularity, as a world champion, and that was who I was dressed as. Shortly after this event, I was ordained into the church. As a medical professional, ordained minister and military officer, I live my life seeing only character and I stand by that. I’m sad that my opponents have taken a good night at church and turned it into negative, political mud, but I’m confident the voters of Bossier will not fall for their desperate attacks.

In other words: Relax! It was just a joke. And, anyway, I became a minister right after, so that excuses any previous bad behavior. Plus, my opponents are total jerks for bringing this up! Shame on them!

He followed that up by sharing a video of his black friend, Rev. Doyle Adams, talking about how Gatti isn’t racist and the whole blackface thing is just “much ado about nothing.”

Remember when doing blatantly racist stuff used to get a person disqualified from running for office?

Related: CoverGirl’s new cover boy fires off racist tweet and bizarre apology