LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky Republican state House candidate is refusing to apologize for several Facebook posts depicting President Obama and the first lady as monkeys, but the state GOP chairman has condemned the posts and issued his own apology for them.

The posts on Dan Johnson’s Facebook page include a picture of a chimpanzee with the caption “Obama’s baby picture” and a photo that had been altered to give Obama and his wife ape-like features. Johnson’s page also displayed a photo of a young Ronald Reagan feeding a monkey with a bottle with the caption: “Rare photos of Ronald Reagan babysitting Barack Obama in early 1962.” His page also included a post calling Islam a “criminal syndicate.”

Johnson, who is also the bishop of the Heart of Fire Church in southeast Louisville, says the posts are satire, and said some of them were shared on his page by others. Asked why he did not delete them, he said “some of you may take it as being funny.” He said Facebook deleted some of the posts.

“It’s a satire. I’m not trying to be racist. I have political opinions, but I’m not racist,” he said.

On Friday, Johnson posted several photos to his Facebook page showing him with various African-Americans, including civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said he would not apologize for the earlier posts.

“I really don’t think I’ve done anything as someone to be a racist,” he said, adding that he had also posted a picture of former President George W. Bush depicted as a monkey and “no one has said a word about that.”

In a news release, Republican Party of Kentucky chairman Mac Brown called Johnson’s posts “outrageous.”

“They represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society and do not in any way, shape or form represent the views of the Republican Party of Kentucky or the many fine candidates representing us on the ballot this November,” Brown said. “I want to apologize to the members of Kentucky’s African-American community.”

Democratic Party chairwoman Sannie Overly has called for Johnson to drop out of the race. Johnson said he would not, adding that he will win the election on Nov. 8. Johnson is challenging incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in the 49th District, which includes part of Bullitt County. Belcher has held the seat since 2009.

The controversy comes as Republicans and Democrats are battling for control of the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats. Republicans need to pick up four seats to win a majority in the House for the first time since 1920.

Information from: WDRB-TV, http://www.fox41.com