Friday, November 6, 2009

Race, party affiliation, and city elections

I previously mentioned that I found the DPG's mailer about Mary Norwood possibly being a Republican to be in poor taste.  I just left it at that, but perhaps you found it odd since I also commented in my non-endorsement post that I found Norwood's "forgetting" who she voted for to be suspect.  Well, Jay Bookman pretty much sums up how I feel about the mailers:

The line between typical political hardball and tactics designed to milk racial suspicions can admittedly be murky. ...

But murky as it may be at times, that line does exist, and it’s important. The state Democratic Party, for example, edged close to or even over that line last week when it injected itself into the nonpartisan campaign with fliers charging that Norwood is a Republican.

On the surface it was a meaningless distraction, and Norwood did herself no favors with her flustered response. It doesn’t matter in the least whether Atlanta’s mayor is tall or short, white or black, male or female or Republican or Democrat.

But in a city in which Republican equals white, the underlying message wasn’t hard to decode.
All of the major candidates have done a pretty good job of avoiding making this election about race.  The DPG basically did all the suburban race-baiters a huge favor with that mailer, and I for one would prefer not to give them freebie's like that. 

Also, while I think Norwood's answer about presidential elections is suspect, I don't think she is a "closet Republican".  My suspicion is that she probably identified as a Republican for some years while she was just another Buckhead resident.  As someone clearly interested in politics, she might have even been involved in GOP politics a little - hence the trip to the state convention in 1999. 

I also suspect that since serving for 8 years at City Hall she realized that was an untenable position, and adopted the independent affiliation.  Changing parties is not really that big a deal, ESPECIALLY if you have never held elected office as a member of that party.  It is a little different after holding elected office, especially at the state level or above, but we aren't talking about anyone who did that.

Norwood always struck me as more ambitious than ideological.  Her stepdaughter is gay, and supports Norwood.  There is no way Norwood would have a strong ideological home in today's Georgia GOP, even if she identifies with a lot of their fiscal policy ideas.  I suspect her GOP leanings are closer to those of many of my friends who tell me they would be Republicans if it were the 70's, or who vote Republican because they are really libertarian and can't stand the Democrats, etc. I'm probably way more comfortable with business issues than most local Dems I know (Lisa Border's connections with developers was a plus for me, for example).

The issues affecting the city are so far removed from partisan politics that focusing on Norwood's possible Republican past is silly.  Besides, there are plenty of OTHER things you can attack Norwood on.  The DPG mailers are an immature attack for an election which requires serious debate.  Also, I think the DPG should mind their own business and stay out of local, non-partisan elections.

3 comments:

  1. Suburban race-baiters? What about the urban race-baiters? Being attacked by calling Norwood a Republican and her repudiating being a Republican was the most comical thing is the campaign. Did anyone take it seriously?

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  2. Well, the "suburban race-baiters" line was really a way of referencing the idiots over at Peach Pundit to whom I don't care to give the credit of a link, or even a reluctant mention.

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  3. I agree with Terry that the attempt to call Norwood a Republican is a non-starter. Reed has significant backing from well-placed Atlanta politicians from the most entrenched sections of the Democratic Party (Franklin, Young, Orrock, Ashe) who believe that calling Norwood a Republican is a game-changer. Atlantans of all demographics are so much more sophisticated than that these days.

    Ask Atlanta's poorest African Americans, who gave a significant portion of their vote to Mary Norwood, if that matters to them. What they'll tell you is: "Lisa Borders and Kasim Reed have never come to my neighborhood. Mary Norwood has come to my neighborhood."

    I'm not sure if any of this will translate into a Norwood victory. Reed seems to have a much better ground game, if his Nov 3 results are any indication. Still, it's important to note that a significant percentage of the African-American electorate--something like 20-25%--prefers Norwood over her African-American opponents.

    Maybe it's because the poorest Atlantans, the majority of whom are African American, do not believe that the past 30+ years of African-American leadership in Atlanta have made much of a difference in their neighborhoods.

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