Voters in Georgia’s 6th congressional district are going to the polls Tuesday in a hotly contested race that could have a big impact on President Trump’s agenda. And a pro-Trump group is looking to suppress the African-American vote by falsely suggesting President Barack Obama doesn’t want blacks to vote Democratic.
The race, which pits Republican Karen Handel against Democrat Jon Ossoff, has become a referendum on the new president. There’s talk that an Ossoff victory in the Republican-leaning district could derail the Republican health care bill. Late polls suggest a nail-biter.
In a radio ad running in Atlanta and produced by the pro-Trump nonprofit Great America Alliance, Obama can be heard saying:
Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey.
Then an African-American narrator says: “Let’s not sell out for another Christmas turkey. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Democrats keep taking our votes for granted.”
Audio of the ad was obtained by CNN.
Obama’s quote comes from his memoir, Dreams From My Father, which he narrated himself for the audiobook. Obama was quoting an African-American barber talking about Chicago’s politics before Harold Washington was elected as the city’s first black mayor in 1983.
In fact, Obama has been clearer than ever this year about the need for Democrats to organize and vote. And with Eric Holder, the former attorney general, he’s involved with a Democratic group looking to mobilize voters ahead of the 2020 elections with an eye on the redistricting process.
Eric Beach of Great America Alliance, defended the ad.
“It’s like any ad, those are his words and we want to use his words and I’ll leave it at that,” Beach told CNN.
In fact, the ad is essentially no different from the kind of ratf*cking tactics that are universally condemned and often illegal: posting flyers in minority neighborhoods falsely saying the election has been moved to Wednesday; or sabotaging get-out-the-vote efforts by jamming phone lines.
Already, voting issues have cropped up in the race. State officials at first closed voter registration three months before election day. But a court extended the deadline, allowing thousands of new voters to register. In a fundraising appeal, Handel expressed outrage over the ruling.
As secretary of state, Handel was a supporter of restrictive voting laws, including leading an illegal purge of the rolls.
The race has been by far the most expensive congressional race in history, with at least $56.7 million spent. USAF’s campaign has relied largely on small donors, while Handel has been boosted by super PACs and outside groups.
“The role of money in politics is a major problem. And particularly the role of unchecked anonymous money,” Ossoff said on NPR Tuesday.
Photo: President Barack Obama campaigns in Milwaukee, November 2012.
Credit: Creative Commons