You know things are going bad for a candidate when they stoop to old school racism to try and turnout voters.
Thus is the story of GOP candidate for County Mayor, David Lenoir.
The mailer pictured to the left arrived at my mailbox Tuesday.
It shows a smiling Lenoir, trying his best to look like the kind of guy you want running your county…5 o’clock shadow and all.
At the bottom it shows his opponent, Lee Harris, a black man whose skin has been darkened, holding a bag of cash, and throwing $100 bills in the air.
Are you freaking kidding me?
The GOP’s Feigned Outrage
It was just a month ago that Republicans feigned outrage when SCDP Chairman Corey Strong called GOP candidates racist.
How quickly Shelby County’s top of the ticket candidate forgets to not be racist!
This is a common tactic with GOP candidates. Depict your black opponent with darker skin than they actually have and feature some Jim Crow era racist tropes to make sure the point gets across.
When people get mad, claim its not racist.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
Now you might be asking yourself, “self, did Lenoir really send this out, or was it a PAC?”
Yes, he did. Here’s the return address from the other side of the mailer.
The GOP’s History of Racism
Unfortunately for the GOP, racism is one of the things they trade in pretty frequently. It goes well beyond the slew of Nazi and White Nationalist candidates carrying the GOP banner on the ballot this year. Two good examples happened right here in Tennessee.
The first dates back to the 2006 Senate race.
Maybe you remember the famous “Call Me” ad released by the RNC in the days before the 2006 election, maybe not. You can watch it here.
The ad, released just a few days before the election, blew just about every racist dog whistle. It gained national attention…and condemnation from the New York Times and a slew of other folks…including some Republicans.
Harold Ford Jr. lost that election to Bob Corker by about 50,000 votes statewide.
Then there’s the 2008 mailer targeting East Tennessee Democrat Nathan Vaughn.
The ad, shown on the right, depicts Vaughn, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi as crows.
The Tennessee GOP sent out this piece of trash.
Here’s coverage of the ad from the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Vaughn lost his 2008 election by just 326 votes.
Did these ads contribute to the losses? No one knows for sure. But one thing is consistently true: when the going gets tough, the GOP’s go-to move is going full racist.
Lenoir’s True Colors
Truth be told, things aren’t looking so good for David Lenoir’s chances right now.
As of Tuesday, more Democrats…A LOT more Democrats have voted in the August election than Republicans. With Early Voting ending this Saturday, Lenoir may have a lot of ground to make up on August 2nd.
Facing that uphill battle could be why Lenoir chose to go full racist, or it may have been part of the plan all along.
There’s no way to know for sure.
But it reveals the character of a man seeking to lead a majority-minority county.
To send thousands of these mailers out to people, in the final days of an election cycle is a show of desperation.
Early Voting participation really kicks into high gear in the last few days. It will be interesting to see if GOP turnout recovers over the final few days.
David Lenoir ought to be ashamed.
Lenoir could have accomplished the same message, without the racist images…but chose not to. That can only mean the racism is part of the message.
That’s a serious character flaw.
It makes you wonder how Lenoir might face other challenges if he’s successful in his bid for County Mayor.
When the going gets tough will Lenoir lash out using old, tired tropes to buoy his efforts, or will he work to bring people together?
If this mailer is any indication, lashing out seems to be the more likely reaction.
That’s not the kind of leadership Shelby County needs.
— Ed. Note: So far, Democratic Mayoral Candidate Lee Harris hasn’t responded to this mailer. This post will be updated if he does.