A candidate for Kershaw County Council is battling controversy after a photo of him in blackface at a Halloween party in college surfaced on social media.
Brant Tomlinson, a Republican running for the Kershaw County County District Five seat, dressed as a member of the Jamaican bobsled team during a 2008 party while a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, Tomlinson said.
The photo, which was found on either his or a friend's Facebook page, shows Tomlinson with his face painted black wearing a black Under Armour shirt with the Jamaican flag duct taped to it. The group costume from the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings" was for a competition, where the team finished second behind another dressed as the "Mighty Ducks."
Tomlinson, who works for a law firm, said he looked through his Facebook photos when he decided to run for office, but decided not to take it down.
"I think that’s one thing wrong with politicians: They try to hide everything they do," Tomlinson said. "I never in a million years really thought that would get a negative connotation on it."
Since WACH Fox published a story Tuesday, the candidate decided to take the photo down, he said. The WACH story cited "mixed reactions" to the photo, saying it had been shared hundreds of times on Facebook.
“I was asked recently, did I think it was funny, doing this? And I looked back, and I didn’t," Tomlinson said. "We didn’t do that to try to make fun of anyone or try to hurt anyone or to put out a negative connotation about how we feel about anyone. We did it strictly for this Halloween party.”
The candidate alleges one of his opponents drudged up the photo and got it circulating on social media. Tomlinson did not name which opponent he believes did it.
Janice Caldwall (R), Jimmy Crissman (R) and David Snodgrass (R) are also running for the seat. The Republican primary is June 12.
Going forward, Tomlinson said he's going to try to "stay very positive."
"The people who don’t know me here, yes, I’m going to have to answer questions," he said.