Black lawmakers and advocates say Republican attacks on Democrats over crimes carry racial undertones and use race to stoke fear.
The Hill reports that a series of ads branding Democrats as too soft on crime have been targeted at both black and white Democratic candidates. Examples of these ads include one posted by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in which his opponent Stacey Abrams’ skin is darkened. Mayor of Chicago last month Lori Lightfoot accused a conservative super PAC of doing the same thing to her skin in an ad.
“The narrative is intended to incite fear and is being used against black and brown candidates,” Georgia State Senator and chair of the state’s Black Legislative Caucus Tony Anderson said The Hill. “We’re trying to improve our communities and this is a fear tactic to keep people from voting for what’s good and appropriate and right.”
Conservatives also use other tactics in their ads. An ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) showed a Democratic candidate Mandela Barneswho is up against incumbent Republican Ron Johnson in the US Senate race in Wisconsin, with “different” and “dangerous” in front of him.
The ad sparked significant backlash from Barnes’ campaign and supporters. Greg Lewis, a pastor in Milwaukee, has admitted crime has increased in the area but added that the narrative Republicans are painting is “causing a division that will likely be difficult to heal in the near future.”
The issue also recently came to light in another political race when former football coach Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville told a campaign rally in Nevada that Democrats support slavery reparations because “they believe the people who commit the crime are guilty.”
The comment drew an immediate backlash from Democrats and prompted a re-examination of how the Republican Party is using crime to generate votes.
Gerhard Griggsa lawyer and president of Georgia’s NAACP, The Hill said the ads were creepy similar to an advertising discussion from 1988 Willie Horton through George HW Bush that was credited to help him get elected.