New York City Councilman and state Senate GOP candidate Eric Ulrich was with a group of Republican delegates at a tapas restaurant in Tampa last week when the group got into a tiff with MSNBC host Chris Matthews, The Hill blog is reporting.
“I tried to wave ‘hi’ to him and he blew me off,” Ulrich said in a phone interview.
The Hill says the incident started with a group of delegates booing at Chris Matthews:
“Matthews was booed and sworn at as he was leaving the Tinatapas restaurant, which is near the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Matthews turned back and confronted the taunting GOP officials. The Hill witnessed the exchange and interviewed Republican delegates after the confrontation. Matthews told The Hill in a phone interview that after he left the restaurant, he heard a group of guys “heckling” and “hooting and hollering” at him.
He headed back into the restaurant to mix it up with them. “I wanted to confront them,” Matthews said, describing his exchange with the men as “towel-snapping” among guys.
Matthews said he told the rowdy group, “What’s this, a douchebag convention?” The Republicans became angry and retorted back.”
Ulrich is running in a GOP primary on Sept. 13 against Juan Reyes. The winner of that contest will face off against Democratic incumbent Joe Addabbo in a newly redrawn district.
Ulrich said he was disappointed in Matthews’ public persona and the slight.
“After witnessing how he verbally went after people who he disagreed with, he’s a lot nicer on TV than he is in person,” Ulrich said.
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy said the incident was indicative of Ulrich’s character, and made reference to his association with John and Bart Haggerty. John Haggerty was convicted of stealing $750,000 in campaign funds from Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year and has served as a political adviser to Ulrich.
“I think the people of Queens have to ask do they want a person in the State Senate who associates with thugs and thieves and gets in nasty confrontations at 2 a.m. in a bar,” he said.
Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for Ulrich’s campaign, said the tiff was a distraction.
“Trying to concoct an issue out of Chris Matthews’ rude behavior to the councilman is a new level of desperation for Joe Addabbo and his attack dogs,” she said. ” As Eric is gaining prominent endorsements and support, this is a poor attempt to distract from his sinking campaign.”
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