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S. Jersey GOP candidate blames hacking for rape comments [Graphic language]

The West Deptford Republican party is under national scrutiny after one of their candidates for town council allegedly wrote on Facebook that he hoped a female journalist would be raped. The candidate says he was hacked.

A little-watched race for township council in West Deptford, N.J., has escalated into a social media war after a Daily Beast reporter called out one of her longtime trolls as a Republican candidate for local office.

Michael Krawitz, 41, who is running for the fourth time for a seat on the Township Commitee in the Democrat-dominated town, said it was not he but a hacker who posted via his Facebook account Monday morning, telling reporter Olivia Nuzzi that he wished she would be raped by a Syrian refugee.

The comments, three in a row and marked by happy faces and extraneous punctuation, came in response to Nuzzi sharing an article about Donald Trump's ex-wife Marla Maples. (Nuzzi did not write the article.)

Reached by phone Monday, Krawitz said he has been an ardent Trump supporter since the 1980s and does post or shares articles on Facebook favoring the Republican presidential candidate. But he denied commenting on Nuzzi's recent post.

The Daily Beast, he said, "is a Democratic organization, I don't even follow that stuff.  I don't go on those websites."

Krawitz suggested his political opponents may have hacked his account.

"Could be anybody in this township or the Democratic party.  When you're running for township committee in Jersey, these people do anything to try to smear you," he said.

Nuzzi said Krawitz's account has been going after her for about a year, "comment[ing] repulsive things usually with that same crazy punctuation."

A post from December 2015 using Krawitz's name and profile picture attacks Nuzzi by name, saying "Stupid Olivia, go back up Obamas. Ass. :)"

The West Deptford GOP, which has endorsed Krawitz and promotes him on its website, was quick to denounce the comments against Nuzzi and said it was asking Facebook to investigate whether Krawitz's account was hacked.

Krawitz said that he also had contacted Facebook. He said people who were already his Facebook friends told him they were getting new friend requests from him.

On Monday afternoon, the GOP appeared to have deleted or hidden its Facebook page.  Krawitz's comments had been deleted earlier in the day.

Nuzzi said she had reached out directly to the local GOP and had not gotten an answer.

"I don't buy the idea that someone hacked a low-level local political candidate a year ago and spent all that time harassing a journalist on there for sport," she said. Rather, she believes Krawitz "is someone who's not Internet-savvy enough to know that people can see what he says -- or he doesn't care."

Krawitz said he "might have" written the comment in response to Nuzzi's December 2015 post but denies wishing someone would rape her.

Joanne Priga, who also is running as a Republican for a committee post, said she had surgery recently and couldn't comment on the facts of the story. Asked if the Facebook comments were consistent with Krawitz's typical behavior, she said, "That's not Michael speaking."