GOP PAC Runs Ad Promoting Progressive, Dynamic Black Lady Senate Candidate ... Oh ... No?
Democrat Erica D. Smith is a North Carolina state senator who is now running for the US Senate. She co-chairs the Joint Legislative Women's Caucus and has served as second vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. Her primary opponent is Cal Cunningham, who is better funded and has the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. All is not lost, however. Smith's campaign has attracted some unlikely assistance. The Republican-affiliated PAC Faith and Power formally launched a week ago and has already placed a $1.56 million ad boosting Smith in the Democratic primary. The ad will play in such major North Carolina markets as Charlotte, Greenville (not the real one in South Carolina), Raleigh, and Greensboro. This is quite the boon for Smith ... or not. Just what are those helpful Republicans saying about her?
"Who's the Democrat for US Senate endorsed by progressives and unions? Erica Smith," says the ad's narrator. "Who's got the courage to vote for 'Medicare for All'? Erica Smith. The number one supporter of the Green New Deal? Erica Smith again."
"Erica Smith is one of us -- a high school educator, engineer, state senator and ordained minister," adds the narrator. "Vote Democrat Erica Smith for US Senate, the only proven progressive."
I didn't know much about Erica Smith before today, but now I've learned she has union endorsements and would support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal? Those are all great things, so, uh ... thanks? Republicans obviously have their own motives for promoting Smith, and I assume they are ulterior. The young, dynamic black woman is an easy TKO against the electoral powerhouse that mortals know as Thom Tillis.
This isn't a unique instance of Republican influence on Democratic primaries. The GOP in South Carolina believe elevating Bernie Sanders is a less impeachable method of hobbling that other electoral powerhouse, Joe Biden. These shenanigans usually make Moderate Democrats unable to tell the difference between rabbit season or duck season. Are Republicans boosting the weaker Democratic candidate who'll be easy pickings in the general election? Or do they want us to think that they believe the candidate they're boosting is weaker? Who knows and honestly, who cares? I think this starts to venture into “be careful what you wish for" territory.
Democrats and Republicans share a common bias that they believe the "tougher" opponent is the one they'd almost vote for themselves. That's not really how elections work, but this conventional wisdom persists despite all evidence. Democrats were scared of John McCain and thought his maverick record made him tough to beat. But they roundly mocked monkey boy George W. Bush, who couldn't even beat a pretzel in a fair fight. Bush was the one who actually served two terms in the White House.
Democrats in 2016 -- most of whom were in full possession of their faculties -- thought that Marco Rubio and Jeb! Bush were the only serious obstacles to Hillary Clinton winning the presidency. The Clinton campaign literally concocted a plan to "pump up" Trump, which ranks up there with Dr. Frankenstein's can't-fail plan to create artificial life in defiance of God.
Maybe North Carolina Republicans are afraid of Cal Cunningham because someone at their golf club said something nice about him. This doesn't necessarily mean he's any more likely to defeat Donald Trump lackey Tillis than Smith is, and if she were to actually win the primary and the Senate race, that's one more vote for everything Republicans hate ... like clean water and poor people getting health care. The risk is just too great.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).