NEW BRITAIN, CT —(Updated 4:36 p.m.) The fallout the day after a misogynist social media comment from the former mayor of New Britain during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday was fast and widespread.
Timothy Stewart, the ex-Republican mayor and current head of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday after he commented on a photo of female members of Congress, calling them: “Bitches in heat!”
Stewart is the father of the current mayor, Erin Stewart, who was both a gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidate in 2018.
After a daylong backlash against him, Tim Stewart issued the following apology on his Facebook page:
My comment on Facebook last evening during the SOTU has caused many people I care about concern over my actions. Let me say that first we are living in a culture where social media has become the public justice system for many who choose to utilize it daily.
My comment was wrong and in poor taste in response to a particular time during the speech that I took offense to. This in no way excuses my behavior and I am deeply sorry to not only the women in my life to all women for the remark.
I am also ashamed that I once again have put the Chamber in a difficult position of dealing with a situation that arose from my personal actions outside of work. For that I am extremely sorry as well. I know that the viral effect this action will continue to enflame people and groups for days to come and I can assure you that I will seek help for the issue that allow me to act in that way.
I will begin by terminating my social media accounts immediately after this post and apologize to my wife and daughter. I can only hope and pray that people can forgive me for this stupidity even it means things have to change in my life. I know that my words have hurt many and I will do better as a person I can promise you that.
Stewart reacted on Twitter to her father’s Facebook comments, saying: “To all those asking; I’m embarrassed and mortified.”
She is not alone.
“I could not be more disappointed in the social media post made last night by Tim Stewart,” said Gennarro Bizzarro, chairman of the New Britain Chamber of Commerce. “His choice of words were inexcusable and has no place in modern civil discourse.”
Bizzarro said he will calling a special meeting of the Chamber board “where we will make a decision about Tim’s future with the Chamber.”
This isn’t the first controversial comment made by Tim Stewart, who was mayor of New Britain from 2003 to 2011.
In 2017 in an online discussion regarding to the heavily populated Latin and African-American New Britain’s North Oak neighborhood, Tim Stewart said: “Unfortunately the inmates continue to run the neighborhood.”
That comment drew condemnation, and calls for his resignation from the New Britain NAACP branch.
Bobby Berriault, candidate for New Britain Common Council 4th Ward, said the two comments combined can’t be tolerated.
“Tim Stewart must be removed as president of the New Britain Chamber of Commerce,” Berriault said. “His racist and sexist comments have no place in our community, and therefore I call on the Board of Directors of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce to act to remove Mr. Stewart from president of Chamber now!”
Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Wyman called for an apology.
“This is not the first time former New Britain Mayor Tim Stewart has made inappropriate comments, and an apology ‘if they are offended’ isn’t enough anymore,” said Wyman.
“This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. This is about basic decency. No one should speak about any woman that way, ever,” she added.
Lindsay Farrell, executive director of Connecticut Working Families Party, took both Stewart and Bizzarro to task.
“But while the Chamber’s President’s attack on women is shocking, it is not at all surprising. Men like him are all too often protected by other men in positions of power and decision-making roles. Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bizzarro paved the way for this behavior when he defended Mr. Stewart just over a year ago after his racist inmates comment, also on social media, also on social media. These guys look out for each other; Mr. Bizzarro got his job with the city of New Britain from Mr. Stewart, after all.
“Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bizzarro has not gone far enough in placing Mr. Stewart on leave; he needs to call for his immediate termination. Anything less sends a signal to other men with derogatory, outdated views of women or anyone else, that this kind of behavior is tolerable and will go without real consequences,” Farrell said.
Sen. Marilyn Moore, who serves as co-chair of the Human Services Committee, said the comment is insulting not only to women but to men as well.
“We are all someone’s son or daughter and we should be disgusted with this language,” Moore said. “ Is this what we can expect as women rise in politics at both the federal and state level?”
Moore added: “This kind of bigoted and sexist response is exactly what we’ve come to expect from some Republicans under Donald Trump who leads the pack.”