Republican Attorneys General Association Launches Dog Whistle Attacks in Nevada
The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) launched a new racially-charged digital effort against Democratic Attorney General candidate Aaron Ford based on reports that he was arrested a few times as a college student. However, Adam Laxalt’s arrest history didn’t stop RAGA from campaigning for him four years ago, despite his previous DUI.
The difference? Aaron Ford is running to be Nevada’s first Black Attorney General. As noted in the Nevada Current, there is a long history of using coded language to appeal to a target audience — known as dog-whistle politics. People of color running for office have often been subjected to this tactic when attack ads use terms that paint them as violent, lazy or having “run-ins with the law.”
Here’s what you may have missed from Michael Lyle in the Nevada Current:
Like Ford, Laxalt, who is currently running for governor, was arrested during college. Laxalt was taken in for a DUI in 1997.
In July 2014, the Republican Attorneys General Association sent out a news release asking people to support state AG candidates, including Laxalt. The RAGA Nevada PAC also contributed$10,000 to his campaign.
Referencing an “alcohol-fueled fight” that Laxalt has acknowledged, Laura Martin, a spokeswoman with PLAN Action, asked in a twitter post “Why are white men considered redeemable but Black men are not? What do you call that?”
“Laxalt was driving under the influence and could have killed someone,” Martin says.
There is a long history of using coded language to appeal to a target audience — known as dog-whistle politics. People of color running for office have often been subjected to this tactic when attack ads use terms that paint them as violent, lazy or having “run-ins with the law.”
Martin says the ad by the Republican group uses language that fits the definition.
“They create these boogeymen with people of color, then they become Stevie Wonder when non-people of color commit acts of violence,” Martin said. “It’s racist to think a nonviolent record from 20 years ago disqualifies you, but someone who was drinking and driving, who also had a 1.0 GPA, is somehow qualified. There is only one difference between them.”
The Democratic Attorneys General Association says while people could see it as a racial dog whistle, they see it as something else.
“This is more of a distraction from the issues voters care about,” says Lizzie Ulmer, a spokeswoman with the Democratic Attorneys General Association. “RAGA has a tough map this election, so this is an example of them playing defense.”
Read the full story here.