A Republican Assembly candidate in one of the party’s top targeted districts is dropping out of the race after POLITICO New Jersey asked the campaign about a book he wrote 12 years ago that is filled with rants, slurs and stereotypes about gay men and women, blacks, Asians, senior citizens, Muslims and foreign-born business owners.
“I’m sorry if I offended anyone and deeply regret what was written,” said the candidate, Anthony Cappola, in a statement, after a reporter contacted his campaign about the book. “I am not the same person I was twelve years ago, but I take responsibility for what I wrote and have chosen to bow out of the race.”
The book, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO New Jersey, is titled “Outrageous!” It lives up to its name.
Its content is apparently so offensive that a vanity press would not accept Cappola’s money to print it, citing the “controversial nature of material” and its “offensive language and depictions.” (Cappola printed the rejection letter from the publisher on the back cover of his book.)
“What a waste!!!” Cappola wrote in a passage titled “Lesbos.” “I don’t mind if you’re a mullet wearing, goatee sporting, butch but when you’re beautiful, what a sin!!!! Aside from making porn, they serve no purpose.”
That was one of the tamer passages.
The book’s reemergence led to immense pressure on Cappola to drop out from his running mate and from the Assembly Republican leadership. But Republicans are now stuck in a difficult situation. The deadline to replace Cappola with another candidate expired in September. And the ballots for the race with Cappola’s name on them have already been printed, the Bergen County Clerk’s office said.
“I feel betrayed and denounce the offensive garbage he sold to the public,” Cappola’s running mate, Mark DiPisa, said in a statement to POLITICO New Jersey. “As soon as I heard what was written in this book, I picked up the phone and told him to drop out immediately. I made it clear to him that if he didn’t drop out of the race, I would. I refuse to associate myself with someone who would promote hate, intolerance and bigotry. I got in the race because I’m worried about the future of New Jersey and I won’t let this deter me from focusing my attention on fixing our state.”
Cappola was running for one of two seats in the 38th District, which is made up mostly of Bergen County and includes one Passaic County town. He and DiPisa, who is remaining in the race, were challenging Democratic incumbents Tim Eustace and Joseph Lagana.
The district is — or was — one of just a few this year considered realistically winnable by either party, and Republicans had pledged to put big resources into the race.
Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick, for instance, in the spring donated the maximum $8,200 to Cappola’s primary campaign.
Eustace, one of Cappola’s opponents, is an openly gay chiropractor. The book mocks gay people and chiropractors.
“We raise our hand and swear to uphold the constitution and swear to uphold the will of the people. I don’t think he’s a person who can do that, which is unfortunate,” Eustace said in a phone interview. “You hope that everyone who runs for office is an upright and fit person. But I don’t think he’s fit to lead, even locally.”
Cappola, 41, is a councilman in River Edge. A former teacher who according to news reports was named the Newark Archdiocese teacher of the year in 1999, he holds a master’s degree in special education. A married father of one, Cappola is also a Bible study leader, according to his campaign bio.
“Now onto fags, listen you like them same sex, hey that’s your ‘choice’!!!!!” Cappola wrote in the book. “But like the rest of normal humanity keep your preference behind doors like normal people do!! You don’t see heterosexuals with parades, national days, and months, special amusement park closings, and flags. Get out of here!”
He also wrote: “That’s why people can’t stand fags, it’s not because they’re homosexual, but because they have telegraph it just incase you didn’t know they were homos!!!!!! … And NO, I am not HOMOPHOBIC. The only person I fear is GOD, and that’s the truth!! And I don’t hate homos, I understand that they have a problem and can choose to get help if they want”
Cappola’s rants also targeted feminists, male and female athletes, female police officers, small town police officers, women in the military, pacifists, animal rights activists, gun rights activists, John Tesh, vegans, Pope John Paul II, flutists, artists, rappers, Civil War re-enactors, pot smokers, alcoholics, cats, politicians, journalists, children with black belts in karate, overweight people and Britney Spears, among others.
The prose is grammatically broken, full of typos and misspellings, and the sentences are frequently punctuated with multiple exclamation points.
Cappola also made foreign and domestic policy prescriptions, like advocating “one big ass no holds bar war” between Jews and Palestinians.
“P.S. I really don’t care who wins over there, just someone please win. And keep the other guy down so much, that they cannot revolt, that’s peace!!!!” he wrote.
Cappola suggested jail or sterilization for welfare recipients if they’re “some 18 year old whore!! Who has 7 kids, is healthy, can work, but just can’t keep her legs shut.”
Cappola advocated stopping all immigration for five years, and permanently barring middle easterners from entering the U.S.
“We know that the Terrorist, most, not all, but most!! Are of Middle Eastern persuasion!!! Here’s a thought, no more people of Middle Eastern background aloud in the country anymore!!”
In one typo-laden passage, Cappola complained about improper English in foreign business owners’ signage.
“HELLOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! You live in A M E R I C A!!!!!!!!” Cappola wrote. “Write and try your dam best to learn and USE ENGLISH!!!!! If your not going to advertise your business by putting your store signs in ENGLISH, than giving the American people, (including yourselves, because many of you are AMERICAN.) a slap in the face with that foreign writing bull!!!!”
A page for “Outrageous!” still exists on Amazon.com, though the book is out of stock. In June 2015, just days after Cappola became the Republican nominee in the district, two Amazon users began asking users who had reviewed the book 12 years earlier if they had a copy available.
Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science at Montclair State University, said it made sense that Republicans had to ask Cappola to bow out of the race.
“Republicans nationally are running and ducking and covering from the comparatively mild rhetoric that Donald Trump is using,” she said. “This incendiary diatribe succeeds in alienating a large portion of voters in the 38th District. If the Republicans don’t demand that he step down, it is in essence condoning this kind of rhetoric.”