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A sheriff candidate in Michigan once joked about shooting a gay couple.
Terry King, who is running in the Republican primary to helm the Alpena County Sheriff's Office, made the violent jest in October 2013 in a text message exchange with his daughter Kimberly from a county-owned phone.
King, Alpena's undersheriff at the time, was sharing photos from a wedding he was attending in order to make fun of a woman whose dress was held together with a safety pin. His daughter then made a gay joke.
"Where the heck are you??? Homoland???" Kimberly exclaimed before a string of "haha's."
Her father replied with a shot from behind of a same-sex couple attending the wedding. "THESE guys are holding hands, where is my fricken gun," he wrote.
"They kiss and stuff! Ew," Kimberly said.
"Bang bang," King added.
"What's worse. The people are [sic] the food?" Kimberly replied.
The texts were posted to TheTruthAboutTerryKing.com by Bob Reid, the former campaign chair for Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski, King's former boss and current political opponent. Reid obtained the messages through the Freedom of Information Act -- and he is also married to a deputy in the sheriff's office.
Reid, in an interview with WBKB, a local Fox affiliate, said the text messages speak to King's character.
"He didn't just give it to a couple people. He sent them to his wife and his daughter," Reid said. "It paints a different picture because it makes you think, wait a minute, he's so comfortable with his hatred, that he shares it with his immediate family."
There is bad blood between Kieliszewski and King. The sheriff demanded King's resignation last year following allegations of impropriety, reports the Detroit Free Press, while King has filed a whistleblower lawsuit in response.
Kieliszewski, whose campaign cut formal ties with Reid over the information leaks, called the texts "horrible," particularly for a candidate seeking public office.
"It was just most concerning - most concerning and extremely disappointing," he told the Free Press. "[I was] shocked when I looked at that. It's like - what the hell are you thinking? What are you doing? These are people, for God's sakes."
While King did not explicitly address the texts, he did accuse his opponent of playing "dirty politics" in a Facebook video posted June 30. "We need a strong leader that will not hide behind others," King said. "I will be a sheriff that will focus on change and what can be done to correct the ignorance in our community, including mine."