Wall Street Journal:TV Ad Stirs Controversy in Minnesota House Race

Wall Street Journal

TV Ad Stirs Controversy in Minnesota House Race

Democratic party officials are alleging that a Republican television ad intentionally darkens the skin tone of Indian-American Democratic candidate Ashwin Madia in a closely contested Minnesota congressional race.

The ad was produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee in support of Republican candidate Erik Paulsen, who is running against Madia for an open seat in the state’s third district.

In an election year when racial issues have reverberated nationally, critics of the ad say it crosses the line between hardball campaigning and something with a more insidious intent.

While the Madia campaign is carefully avoiding making charges that race is involved, Minnesota Democratic officials and a veteran’s group charge that the ad darkens Madia’s pigmentation in three photos.

“It might be possible to dismiss these actions as a customary, yet unfortunate aspect of negative advertising,” said Eric S. Fought, associate communications director of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. But he said that he believed viewers would “know what Paulsen and his allies intended with darkening the images of Madia.” The Paulson campaign didn’t return calls.

Press secretary Ken Spain of the NRCC, which makes ads and buys time for a number of Republican congressional candidates, said the photos were not darkened at all, much less intentionally. ”These assertions are profoundly ridiculous and false,” he said

The NRCC ad plays off of one of Madia’s own ads, in which the Democratic candidate, a lawyer and former Marine who served in Iraq, runs through his community in a “Marines” sweatshirt. In the NRCC’s version, a narrator suggests Madia is “running to raise taxes.” Viewers see what Democratic party officials say appears to be darkened footage of the candidate jogging as well as the photos in question.

Minn. Campaign Report: NRCC/Paulsen attack ad: ‘a betrayal of what Minnesota politics is all about’

Minn. Campaign Report

NRCC/Paulsen attack ad: ‘a betrayal of what Minnesota politics is all about’

This story is going to dominate the rest of this campaign’s news cycle: The National Republican Campaign Committee, operating on behalf of Erik Paulsen’s campaign, darkening photos of Democratic candidate Ashwin Madia to instill fear of the Other in voters.

A Republican attack ad invites viewers to “meet the real Ashwin Madia,” but the still photos featured in the spot present a noticeably darker version of the 3rd District DFL congressional candidate.”At least three of the photos of Madia were obviously darkened, using one method or another,” public affairs and media consultant Dean Alger told KARE 11.

He said the viewing public has grown accustomed to hearing distorted claims, or statements and votes used out of context. However, Alger asserts the altered images of Madia, the son of Indian immigrants, crosses a line.

“There is an attack ad tactic that goes beyond distortion, and frankly, is a betrayal of what Minnesota politics is all about.”

It’s been done on the presidential level against Obama, and now it’s being done against Madia. I particularly like, though, that the Republicans are unwilling to let their viewers know that Madia is a Marine veteran who served honorably in Iraq — God forbid they actually discuss important issues like the economic and human impact of our continued involvement in Iraq. God forbid they compare Madia’s real experience with world affairs to Erik Paulsen’s travelogue and tired rhetoric about Congress being broken.No, instead, they play dog whistle politics on race.

Blog of the Moderate Left: Arlon Lindner?:

Blog of the Moderate Left

Arlon Lindner?

Remember State Rep. Arlon Lindner, R-Corcoran? Sure you do! He’s the insane former state representative whose political career imploded when he said, well, this:

Charming fellow. To be fair, this wasn’t the only bit of insanity Lindner espoused. He skipped a joint session of the legislature because the Dalai Lama was addressing it, saying, “As a Christian, I am offended that we would have the Dalai Lama come and speak to a joint meeting of our Minnesota Legislature. He claims to be a god-king, a leader of the Buddha religion, which historically has been considered a cult because of its anti-Biblical teachings concerning the one true Holy God, Creator of Heaven and earth and His Son, Jesus Christ.” When DFL State Rep. Michael Paymar, a practicing Jew, objected to the fact that invocations in the House had become sectarian under the GOP leadership, Lindner had said, “You know, we’re told there’s one God and one mediator between God and man. That man is Jesus Christ. And most of us here are Christians. And we shouldn’t be left not able to pray in the name of our God….And if you don’t like it, you may have to like it-Or just don’t come. I don’t come sometimes for some prayers here….We have that privilege, and you need to exercise it. But don’t impose your irreligious left views on me.” Because asking that invocations in a state body be nonsectarian was, evidently, too much to ask.

And of course, there was the letter Lindner’s lawyer sent to Rep. Neva Walker-Black. The problem with that was that there was no Neva Walker-Black in the legislature. There was and is a Rep. Neva Walker, DFL-Minneapolis, the first African-American woman ever elected to the Minnesota State Legislature. She had never been named Black, and had never been married to anyone named Black — indeed, no real explanation was ever offered as to why the letter was addressed to Walker-Black, though it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots.

Minnesota Independent: Fox anticipated Bachmann plea for media witch hunt with Glenn Beck hire

Minnesota Independent

Fox anticipated Bachmann plea for media witch hunt with Glenn Beck hire

Right-wing host Glenn Beck, who will command a much bigger audience with a daily show at Fox than he did at CNN’s Headline News channel, is best known for this gem, addressed to U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in November 2006, on the occasion of Ellison’s election as the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress: “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” Video after the jump (sorry if you’ve already showered).

Minnesota Independent: Subprime targets: Why everything pundits and politicians are telling you about the CRA is wrong

Minnesota Independent

Subprime targets: Why everything pundits and politicians are telling you about the CRA is wrong

What happened here is what many housing experts call reverse redlining–predatory lenders targeting low-income and black and Latino neighborhoods with high-cost and imprudent loans. Conservative columnists, punditsbankers, and politicians like Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann have taken to blaming the subprime fallout and subsequent credit crisis on theCommunity Reinvestment Act, a Carter-era program that was designed to require banks to make loans in areas from which they also took deposits. And housing and civil rights experts like Myron Orfield, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the executive dierctor of the Institute on Race and Poverty, and Geoff Smith of the Woodstock Institute, a policy and advocacy organization that specializes in housing research, say they couldn’t be more misguided.

Created more than 30 years ago, the CRA essentially worked like this: In turn for taking money from low-income communities, banks would have their lending practices examined by federal regulators to ensure they’re making loans for mortgages, small businesses, and community development in those same neighborhoods. In other words, they’d be examined to ensure they weren’t discriminating against low-income neighborhoods that supplied them with monies to make loans to other customers.

But what actually happened in the last few years, Orfield says, is much different. For one thing, the CRA never required banks and lenders to create risky loan packages and market them to consumers who would be unable to afford them after the terms changed. For another, the banks never had a specific quota to meet under CRA, but instead were simply required to show they reinvested back in the community.

Minnesota Independent: Census data puts lie to Paulsen camp’s ‘demographics’ line

Minnesota Independent

Census data puts lie to Paulsen camp’s ‘demographics’ line

Is the Republican Party of Minnesota unaware of current demographics in the West Metro congressional district it has held for 50 years? U.S. Census data suggests that the suburban-identity politics that Republicans advanced last week writes off a third or more of the 3rd district’s residents.

 

Republican officials claim the 3rd district’s demographic makeup makes their candidate — state Rep. Erik Paulsen, a married-with-children homeowner — better suited to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad (R) than DFLer Ashwin Madia, a single, childless renter.

After Republicans made their demographics case last week — particularly state party chair Ron Carey’s statement that 3rd district voters should like Paulsen best because he’s “one of them”– reporters pressed questions about a racial or ethnic undercurrent to the argument. The topic is too hot to touch — Madia, the son of immigrants from India, said he didn’t hear it, while Paulsen’s allies denied it — but for what it’s worth, the candidates’ racial backgrounds are shared across the 3rd district’s population to starkly different extents, as reflected in U.S. Census figures:

Total population (one race and more than one race): 664,769
White: 83 percent (553,342)
Asian Indian: 1.3 percent (8,350

Sepia Mutiny: Minnesota Republicans on Ashwin Madia: “Not one of us

Sepia Mutiny

Minnesota Republicans on Ashwin Madia: “Not one of us”

Just a quick post, to highlight something that I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about in the weeks to come. We’re starting to see racially-tinged rhetoric against an Indian-American candidate for U.S. Congress:

It seems to me that the officials at this press event know exactly what they’re saying, though they nevertheless deny the racist and xenophobic thrust of their comments: “From a demographic standpoint, Erik Paulson fits the district very well.”

I do not know whether the Republican Party in Minnesota is going to start running ads along these lines or not. If not, perhaps this isn’t really all that important. But the rhetoric here just feels too deliberate to be merely a one-off event or an accident. That said, if they’re sinking to this level, Madia must be doing something right.