Race and Republicans: Kochs use racial imagery to support Republican extremists | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Race and Republicans: Kochs use racial imagery to support Republican extremists

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM

MESSAGING: Is it just a coincidence that pro-Republican political mailings that attack Obamacare employ images of black doctors?
  • MESSAGING: Is it just a coincidence that pro-Republican political mailings that attack Obamacare employ images of black doctors?

The Huffington Post has put two and two together on the Republican Party/Koch Brothers' Southern Strategy.

An article today by John Celock notes that Americans for Prosperity, the Koch billionaires' political lobby, has put some of the $1 million it is spending to win control of the Arkansas legislature on the terrible twosome of Reps. Jon Hubbard and Loy Mauch, both of whom have written extensively that a) slavery had its benefits and b) it was condoned by Jesus and the Bible. Mauch is a member of a neo-Confederate group with pro-secession beliefs that has long been watched by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Celock notes, too, as I have before, that the mailings with which AFP is flooding Arkansas legislative districts coincidentally use a photograph of a black man in doctor's gear for its message about the evils of Obamacare. Is that skin color coincidental? I think not. He notes:

The AFP ads sent on behalf of Hubbard and Mauch praise the pair for voting against implementing the Affordable Care Act, along with votes that AFP says are against higher taxes. In one piece sent on behalf of both candidates regarding the ACA, the ad features pictures of a smiling white family and a black doctor, and thanks them for voting against health care exchanges in Arkansas, saying they will cost states between $10 million and $100 million a year. The mailers also feature pictures of Hubbard or Mauch and ask readers to call them to "thank them for protecting our health care freedom."

Other mailers have also used a foreign-looking doctor as part of the message. The 60 Plus organization, another shadowy Republican group, has attacked Democratic candidates with anti-Obamacare mailers featuring a black doctor.

Celock quotes Teresa Oelke, the leading paid Koch employee in Arkansas, who again peddles the palpable nonsense that AFP spending is educational and not political. There's a slight hint that using racially tinged mail to support candidates accused of racism, having been caught, might not reoccur this season, at least in the hottest races.

Teresa Oelke, AFP's director in Arkansas, said that the group was not supporting individual candidates but was pushing various issues in the state and urging residents to contact legislators to shape policy in these areas. She described the mailers as part of the "issue education" efforts that AFP ended in the state in September. Oelke, who is leading a statewide bus tour for AFP, also said the group does not support what Hubbard and Mauch wrote regarding slavery. She declined to say if the group would be sending out more mail on their behalf, saying "we don't discuss internal strategy and never have."

NO FAN OF SPEAKER-ELECT: Lori Benedict.
  • NO FAN OF SPEAKER-ELECT: Lori Benedict.
Speaking of race and Republican candidates, Maynard Mayor Don Sikes confirmed for me today being present when Republican Rep. Lori Benedict of Sturkie had made one of several reported remarks during the campaign season about the race of state Rep. Darrin Williams of Little Rock, elected to be the first black House speaker next year (if his party retains control). At a campaign event in the spring, Sikes said, Benedict made remarks "condemning the Democratic Party for electing a black speaker." Other Democrats had told me Benedict has referred other times to Williams' race, and the number of black people in Little Rock and its schools, particularly in criticizing court-ordered state payments in the Pulaski County desegregation case. I've left her a phone message and sent a note to ask for response and elaboration. Noted: Randolph County is 96.99 percent white. This could be another occasion where pointing out a Republican candidate's remarks on race might work to their benefit. Democrat Scott Baltz, the Pocahontas fire chief, is opposing Benedict. Good flavor of Benedict in this debate coverage in which she was quoted about Williams:

Benedict said the new Speaker of the House is, "Liberal, liberal, liberal...It's going to be, implement the Obama agenda."

What else would you expect from a black man after all?

UPDATE: Rep. Benedict sent this note:

My remarks were "I am not racist, I do not oppose Rep. Williams because he is the first black elected Speaker of the House. I oppose him because he is liberal, liberal , liberal and we need a conservative appointing committee chairmen. We need a House Speaker who better represents the rural part of the state and not just big city interest."

To some followup questions, Benedict that she'd never offered an opinion — race or otherwise — "WHY" Williams was elected. "I do not have an opinion on that issue." She added that she was firmly committed to ending state spending on desegregation because it "was no longer an issue." She also said the House had plenty of attorneys and needed more "diversity" in the speaker than electing a lawyer. She'll be backing Terry Rice, a furniture salesman, if she wins.

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