The head of the Republican Party in York County apologized Friday for writing an email containing degrading remarks about an openly gay state legislator that spurred some fellow Republicans to call for his resignation.

Jim Booth, chairman of the York County Republican Committee, telephoned Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, Friday to apologize for an email in which he twice referred to Chenette as “Little Justine.” Booth also wrote “there is a lot of HATE” for Chenette. The email was sent out to recruit Republicans to run against Chenette in the race for the state Senate seat from District 31. The email became public Thursday.

Chenette said Booth called him Friday morning, and during a five-minute phone conversation confirmed that he wrote the email and apologized for it. Chenette said Booth “insinuated” that he made the remarks in the email out of frustration that no Republican had yet stepped forward to run against Chenette. William Gombar, a Republican from Old Orchard, had earlier declared his intention to run in Senate District 31, but withdrew from the race this month.

“I told (Booth) I get frustrated too, but I don’t call people names, we have to be the adults in the room,” said Chenette, 25. “I told him I thought this might be a good learning moment, a time for some soul-searching in Maine. Do we want political rhetoric that demonizes human beings for who we are? Or do we want to empower people to be involved in the political process?”

Chenette said Booth seemed “down to earth” during the conversation. Booth did not return a phone call or an email seeking comment.

While several Republican politicians denounced the email denigrating Chenette on Thursday, by Friday some were calling for Booth’s resignation as county party chairman. Sen. David Woodsome, R-Waterboro, and Rep. Donald Marean, R-Hollis, both said Friday that Booth should resign, a sentiment Chenette shares. Woodsome said he called Booth to tell him he should resign. He said Booth’s response was that he’d “have to think about it.”

“When I saw (a news story about the email), I just about fell out of my chair. I told Jim I was very disappointed, it was totally unprofessional, and that there’s no place in our society for that,” Woodsome said. “Statewide and nationwide, we should be talking about acceptance.”

Woodsome said he had talked to several Republicans in York County who agreed Booth should resign. Marean said Friday that what Booth did was “unacceptable” in politics or any other realm.

If Booth does resign, a meeting of all York County Republicans would be called to pick a new chairman, Woodsome said. Usually 40 or so people attend such meetings, he said.

Republican county chairmen are “not accountable” to the Maine Republican Party chairman, Rick Bennett, party communications director Nina McLaughlin said. She said Bennett and the state party would have no further comment on Booth beyond a statement issued Thursday, calling the language of Booth’s email “completely inappropriate and unfortunate.”

Booth, who lives in Arundel, ran unsuccessfully for the Maine Senate District 32 seat in 2014.

Chenette said he has been heartened by the number of Republicans who have denounced Booth’s email, and said publicly that such language doesn’t belong in Maine politics.

“In light of what’s happening nationally and in the state, there are some who want to roll back some of the rights I enjoy, being married to my husband,” Chenette said. “So I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me that legislators who are on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum from me have been so supportive, letting people know they don’t support hate-filled speech.”