CLINTON — Within the space of 24 hours, Clinton attorney Kent Tester’s campaign for Van Buren County District Court judge went up in smoke.

CLINTON — Within the space of 24 hours, Clinton attorney Kent Tester’s campaign for Van Buren County District Court judge went up in smoke.


Tester dropped out of the race early Tuesday morning, posting an apology on his Facebook campaign page for using a racial slur that surfaced in a blog post Monday.


Blogger Matt Campbell posted on his Blue Hog Report blog Monday morning what he claimed was a text-message exchange between Van Buren County District Judge Susan Weaver and Tester in which Tester used a racial slur to describe Van Buren County Clerk Pam Bradford, who is white, during Bradford’s 2014 campaign for the position.


Tester told the Van Buren County Democrat on Monday morning that he had written the text message in question, but emphasized that it was written in jest in what he thought was a private text-message conversation. The racial slur directed against Bradford, which he described as "a terrible term that I used," was part of an inside joke, he said, explaining that a Conway attorney who has since died had used the slur in reference to Weaver when she was running in her 2012 election.


In a post on his own Facebook page on Monday afternoon, Tester claimed that Weaver understood the message in the text was meant to be sarcastic and was not directed at Bradford personally. Tester went on to call the Blue Hog Report’s post "a contrived effort to distract voters from the fact that Judge Weaver is under investigation by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for using taxpayer funded resources for campaign purposes. I believe that is unethical and wrong, and violates the taxpayers’ trust."


Tester did not deny writing the text message, and on Tuesday told his supporters via Facebook "I can never sit in judgment of any case with this mark on my character and will wear it in some way for the rest of my days."


The text message exchange appears on Campbell’s blog in an image that appears to be captured from a smartphone screen depicting the following conversation, which begins mid-sentence in an apparent question to Tester from Weaver:


Weaver: … you had to drink?


Tester: Not quite enough


Weaver: More than me


Tester: I hate texting someone sober How’s Angie [Hutchins, Pam Bradford’s challenger]? I can’t tell how she’s doing


Weaver: Like my texting her or what do you mean? I’m not with her and I haven’t text[ed] her [because] I was waiting for it to be over


Tester: Can’t believe that hair lipped (sic) [misspelled racial slur] whore is gonna win!


Weaver told the Van Buren County Democrat she was not involved in the Blue Hog Report’s post and did not know where Campbell got the information he posted to his blog.


"I didn’t contact Blue Hog Report; You’ll have to ask them," Weaver said Monday.


The screenshot appears to have been taken from Weaver’s cell phone.