Law \ Legal

Black Advocates Sense Racial Undertones in GOP Crime Debate

Ads criticizing Democrats as too soft on crime, while directed at some white candidates, are using the issue of race to ignite fear in Black candidates like Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, critics say.

The ads often characterize Democratic candidates as soft on crime and are directed at both white and Black candidates. Still, critics say, the GOP uses the issue of race to ignite racial fears and hostility, reports Cheyanne M. Daniels for the Hill. 

Brian Kemp, the incumbent Governor of Georgia, challenged by Abrams in a rematch, was accused of significantly darkening her skin in campaign ads. In a separate social media ad, advocates accused Kemp of darkening Abram’s skin again, as the ad claimed Abrams “put criminals first.”

Kemp denied the claims saying Abrams was desperate as she trails in the polls.

The latest poll from RealClearPolitics shows Abrams trailing Kemp by 7 points.

The two have a checkered past, as their first contest was razor-thin. A judge recently ruled against challenges to the state’s absentee ballot provisions that a voting rights group aligned with Abrams brought.

Kemp followed with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal using the decision to bolster his campaign in the current election.

But other GOP ads have faced criticism.

Earlier this year, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, pictured Mandela Barnes, a Democratic candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin, with members of the progressive “squad” like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, showing words like “different” and “dangerous” superimposed over them.

The “squad” are all women of color.

Despite the GOP elevating the crime debate, the issue is equally as important to Democrats and Black voters, according to advocates.

“Crime is a top of mind issue for Black voters,” said Janiyah Thomas, manager for the Republican National Committee’s Black Media Affairs.

This summary was prepared by associate TCR editor James Van Bramer.

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