A state House candidate from Sabattus leveled insults and criticism at two students who survived the shooting at a Florida high school last month.

Leslie Gibson, a Republican and the only declared candidate for House District 57, took to Twitter to call one student a “skinhead lesbian” and to denounce another as a “bald faced liar.”

The comments have stirred up some people in Democratic ranks, but so far nobody has emerged to take on Gibson.

“I wish I knew someone who could get into this race,” said Pat Fogg, a Democratic organizer in Greene. “That sort of stupidity really turns people off.”

Gibson said Monday that during his career in the military, he took an oath “to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“Because of this,” he said, “I am very passionate about protecting our constitutional rights from those who seek their elimination. It was not appropriate to single out the Parkland students, but I stand firm in my defense of our constitutional rights.”

The 18-year-old student whom Gibson singled out, Emma Gonzalez, is among the students speaking out from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre there that left 17 of her classmates dead, she has emerged as a leader in students’ fight to make assault rifles harder to come by.

“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson wrote.

Gibson said in another tweet that calling her a survivor, as many have done, is disingenuous because she “was in a completely different part of the school” when students were gunned down.

Gibson apologized in a later tweet, saying, “I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you. It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”

Gonzalez, who wears her hair in a short buzz cut, referred to herself as a Cuban bisexual in a piece she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. In describing herself, she also said she likes to draw, paint, crochet, sew and embroider, can’t pick a favorite color and watches Netflix.

“But none of this matters anymore,” she wrote. “What matters is that the majority of American people have become complacent in a senseless injustice that occurs all around them. What matters is that most American politicians have become more easily swayed by money than by the people who voted them into office. What matters is that my friends are dead, along with hundreds upon hundreds of others all over the United States.”

The other student that Gibson mentioned, David Hogg, has also been an outspoken advocate for taking on the National Rifle Association.

The incident that apparently set off Gibson was an appearance by Hogg on CNN in which the Parkland student lashed out at NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. He accused her of working with gun manufacturers to control Congress.

“She owns these congressmen. She can get them to do things,” Hogg told the network. “She doesn’t care about these children’s lives,” he said.

Gibson again took to Twitter, calling Hogg “a bald faced liar. Dana Loesch ‘owns’ Congressmen? Completely absurd.”

Gibson pointed out that the NRA isn’t even among the top 50 lobbying groups in terms of spending on campaigns.

Then he wrote, “Hogg doesn’t get a pass when he blatantly lies.”

Gibson has since made both his personal and campaign Twitter accounts private.

Fogg, the Democratic organizer, said it is unfortunate that Gibson is the only candidate for the House seat. She said his comments are part of a trend toward “name-calling and disparagement.”

“There are disaffected Republicans because of people like that,” Fogg said.

Gibson, who retired from the U.S. Navy, for years has used social media to comment on immigration, defend conservative politicians and promote Republican policies. He has a history of retweeting stridently anti-immigrant comments, often from accounts in Maine.

Last month, he explained on Facebook after “the tragedy that occurred in Florida” that there has been “a lot of misinformation, and flat out lies” circulated by “the liberal media and leftist anti-Second Amendment groups.”

As a lifetime member of the NRA, he said, he stands with the group’s efforts “to protect and preserve our Second Amendment rights,” which he said are “under attack.”

“The NRA and its members are being blamed for the Florida tragedy,” Gibson wrote. “Such blame is patently misdirected. The blame rests solely with the person who committed these murders.”

He said he doesn’t trust “leftist politicians or the liberal media when they claim that no one wants to take your guns away. That’s exactly what they want to do. I don’t care what they say.”

Gibson said that after he’s elected, he will “lead the charge in the protection and preservation of our constitutional rights and our Maine traditions against these attacks.”

District 57 is represented by Stephen Wood, a Republican who can’t run for re-election because he is in his fourth term, the longest he can serve by law. The district includes the towns of Greene and Sabattus.

Steve Collins can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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