Republican Tony Strickland has sent an inflammatory mailing attacking his opponent in the race to represent California’s 25th congressional district, north of Los Angeles. The mailing features a large Confederate battle flag, and notes that State Sen. Steve Knight (right, above) was one of only 3 state legislators to vote against banning the sale of Confederate symbols on state property. It links Knight to one of the other “no” votes, “extremist” GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (left).
Accusations of racism and extremism do surface from time to time in close congressional races–and the race for the open seat in the 25th is one of the closest in the country.
What is unusual, however, is that State Sen. Knight is also a Republican, and that–as several sources confirmed to Breitbart News–the mailing is being distributed to Democrats. The hope, apparently, is to move otherwise apathetic Democratic voters to vote against Knight.
The Strickland mailing accuses Knight and Donnelly of being “anti-immigrant”–a charge that Donnelly, who opposes illegal immigration, rejects.
“Steve Knight and I are both married to women of other races,” Donnelly told Breitbart News on Wednesday via e-mail. “Steve’s wife Lily is Hispanic. She immigrated here from Chile. If any of these smears were true, it would be very uncomfortable every night around the dinner table.”
Earlier this year, Donnelly explained that he voted against the bill to ban the Confederate flag on free speech grounds–the sole member of the State Assembly to do so.
“We shouldn’t be here picking the kind of speech we like…I am not standing here defending the symbol. I am standing here defending the principle that the First Amendment principles should apply in all state buildings, of all places,” he said at the time, according to CBS.
The subtlety of that stand is lost in the Strickland mailing, which casts Knight’s vote in the State Senate as an expression of “extremism.”
It is a message that is crafted to resonate with Democrats–just as a Republican super PAC in Mississippi successfully targeted black Democrats with messages implying that Tea Party-backed State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who was challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, was a racist.
In California, appeals to voters from the opposite party are becoming common as the new “jungle” primary system yields general elections that pit two members of the same party against each other. Voters from the minority party, without a candidate of their own, hold the balance of power.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak