"Monkey" remark comes center stage in contentious District 6 Senate race

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From left, District 6 Senate candidates Chris Rice and Jim Gray and Rochester City Councilor and Rice for Senate fiscal agent Doug Lachance.

ROCHESTER - District 6 Senate candidate Chris Rice said on Tuesday that a Facebook post characterizing his opponent's service in the New Hampshire Senate as that of a "monkey" is not for him to take down.

Republican incumbent Jim Gray demanded Rice, a Democrat, take down the post in his closing arguments during a Candidates Forum held on Zoom on Monday night. As Gray had the final comments of the evening, Rice had no chance to respond to the demand.

The two tangled in openly hostile fashion during much of their time spent answering questions from a panel of local news reporters.

In his closing statement Gray, also a City Councilor, said the Facebook post referring to him as a "monkey" was highly offensive and should be taken down immediately.

"The remark on his finance person's website refers to my service as a monkey, and I know that could be a derogatory term," Gray said. "The negative things in the Rice campaign need to stop."

Gray said on Tuesday that the use of the term monkey had strong negative connotations, especially in light of recent racial unrest and rioting that has gripped the nation.

On Tuesday Rice, getting his first chance to weigh in on Gray's remarks, said the comments in question came from his campaign's fiscal agent, City Councilor Doug Lachance, who is "is not a paid staffer and doesn't have to conform to any guidelines."

Rice, who is also a Rochester City Councilor, said he has spoken to Lachance and "relayed the severity of what he said," but in the end it's a matter of free speech.

In the video post of Oct. 14 Lachance said in part, "We might as well elect a monkey to Concord ... cause he's just been a rubber stamp for the Republican party."

Lachance said on Wednesday that his use of the term "monkey" meant an actual monkey.

"It was not a racial comment," he said, adding that monkeys have been shown to be the most easily trained of primates.

Lachance also said he took great offense that anyone would think his comment was racially charged, adding, "As a City Councilor I endorsed and signed onto the letter that all black lives matter that was formulated by (City Councilor) Palana Belken and (Governor's Council candidate) Emmett Soldati".

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