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Friday, October 18, 2013

GOP’s Peter Silva says Ward 8 polling place looked like New Delhi on primary day in September

NASHUA – Former state Rep. Peter Silva, the Republican nominee in the Nov. 5 special election for state representative from Nashua’s Ward 8, is defending what some are calling an “inappropriate” comment made last week while talking about his opponent, Democratic nominee Latha Mangipudi.

The comment came toward the end of an Oct. 10 forum the Nashua Republican City Committee hosted for Board of Aldermen candidates. In what he later called an attempt to convince Republican voters to take the upcoming election seriously, Silva predicted Mangipudi could benefit from a large turnout of Indian voters, saying “they’ll be coming out of the woodwork” on voting day, Nov. 5. ...

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NASHUA – Former state Rep. Peter Silva, the Republican nominee in the Nov. 5 special election for state representative from Nashua’s Ward 8, is defending what some are calling an “inappropriate” comment made last week while talking about his opponent, Democratic nominee Latha Mangipudi.

The comment came toward the end of an Oct. 10 forum the Nashua Republican City Committee hosted for Board of Aldermen candidates. In what he later called an attempt to convince Republican voters to take the upcoming election seriously, Silva predicted Mangipudi could benefit from a large turnout of Indian voters, saying “they’ll be coming out of the woodwork” on voting day, Nov. 5.

Silva referenced the Sept. 17 primary, in which Mangipudi and Carl Andrade faced off for the Democratic nomination. “I thought I was in New Delhi,” he said, emphasizing the large turnout of Indian voters at the ward polling place, Bicentennial Elementary School.

Ward 8, which is Hillsborough County House District 35, is home to a large population of residents of Asian and Indian descent.

Silva insists his comments were aimed at rallying Republicans to not take the Nov. 5 election lightly. “The fact is, if (Republicans) are gong to take this election lackadaisically, then we’re going to lose. My comments were made to make people aware there’s a tide against us this time.”

And he was offering no apologies.

“The bottom line is my opponent is a very worthy opponent who I’m sure will rally everyone she can,” Silva said Wednesday. “What I said is true. I can understand being criticized if I said something derogatory. If what I said is considered derogatory, then I think we should live in plastic bubbles,” he said.

All but one of the aldermanic candidates contacted either hadn’t heard Silva’s comments or declined to weigh in. Ward 9 Alderman Dan Moriarty, who is running for one of three open alderman-at-large seats, said he understands why the comments raised red flags among some, but that he’s “moved on.”

“I thought a lot about it, but it’s not my style,” Moriarty said this week.

“Nov. 5 is getting close, and I’m staying positive,” he said of his candidacy. “I decided to move on.”

Mangipudi didn’t return calls requesting comment, but state Democratic Party officials called for Silva to apologize, saying his remarks are “the very same offensive and nasty rhetoric voters rejected last fall” by voting a number of Republicans out of Concord.

“The only thing more outrageous and shameful than Silva’s slur is that in a room full of New Hampshire Republicans, not one of them objected or has called on him to apologize,” state Democratic party communications director Harrell Kirstein said in a statement. “Mr. Silva owes all Nashua residents an apology for his rude and inappropriate comment.”

Silva accused his detractors of “political correctness” and for spinning reality.

“It’s amazing how people can spin things. Fifty or 60 people (at the forum) heard this in context. This politically correct stuff has got to go,” he said.

To Silva, his comments were nothing more than a molehill turned into a mountain.

“I believe people will say, ‘give me a break.’ They can call us tea partiers, tea baggers, and so forth, but what am I going to do, go off crying about it?

“No,” he said.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).