With less than a week until Election Day, Alabama Democrat Senate candidate Doug Jones has angered black voters by attacking Republican opponent Roy Moore with a flyer some critics are calling a racist advertisement.
The mailing was created to look something like an Internet meme. At the top, it reads, “Think if a Black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?” Beneath that is a photo of a young black man with a comical skeptical look on his face.
But African American critics of the flyer think the ad hits a sour note and is borderline racist.
“I feel it was putting you in a position to vote based on race, versus the correct candidate, or a candidate,” Alabama resident Veronica Jones told WHNT News 19. She said she didn’t think it was the correct way to address Alabama’s minority community, if that was the Jones campaign’s intent. She added, “Just state the facts, what are you going to do for that target area, and be done.”
The voter conclued, saying she was shocked that the ad came from the Doug Jones campaign, “I think it was the wrong way to go overall,” she said about the flyer.
The black-centric website The Root was also incensed by the ad.
The Root’s Michael Harriot tore into the ad saying:
Someone, probably a white man, thought that the image would resonate with Black people and motivate them to get out the vote. It’s as if Black people were considering voting for the child molester until some brilliant strategist posited: ‘What if he were Black, though?’ The flyer is reductive in its oversimplification of the black mind as only caring about Black issues. While it might not be racist, it is certainly racist adjacent.
“Part of the reason the Democratic Party has been marginalized as a party that only exists on the coasts and in urban areas is whitemannery like this,” Harriot added. “The Democratic Party is trash. It is the reason Hillary Clinton lost. It is the reason Donald Trump is president.”
Black voters on social media are no happier over the metrics of the ad.
Those pushing candidate Jones have also courted controversy this week with a misleading campaign ad claiming that Alabama votes are “public record” and that voters who chose to vote for Roy Moore can be publicly outed based on their voting record. An ad pushed by a PAC for Doug Jones tells Moore voters that “the community will know” if they voted for “a child molester.”
But, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office hastened to remind voters that votes are not recorded along with a voter’s name. All ballots are blind and no public records exist of who voted for whom. Therefore, state officials note, no one can know whom anyone voted for unless the voter himself tells people about the choice.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.