SEATTLE Mayor Mike McGinn’s campaign devolved into the theater of the absurd this week with a racially tinged attack on his opponent’s record.
The impression left about the race’s front-runner, state Sen. Ed Murray, was rankly false, and the effort was unbecoming of the mayor’s campaign.
At a Monday campaign event, a McGinn supporter, former state Rep. Velma Veloria, described Murray as secretly dismissive of a 1998 bill which supported affirmative action, believing “women and minorities had achieved equal rights.”
The story has an odd ring because Murray publicly signed onto that bill and campaigned against the anti-affirmative action Initiative 200 in1998. Other fellow lawmakers dismiss the story as baloney. But the allegation has spread nonetheless, in news coverage and in Facebook comments suggesting hidden racism.
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The charge remains on McGinn’s campaign website.
In fact, Murray has a gold-standard record over 18 years in Olympia on controversial policies important to people of color — including advocating for state-funded farmworker housing, for more quickly restoring felons’ voting rights, and, just this year, for extending college financial aid to immigrants in the U.S. without legal permission.
Murray was rated as one of the top six senators on the Washington Community Action Network’s Report Card on Racial Equity and is endorsed by a long list of prominent leaders in minority communities, including former King County Executive Ron Sims.
“We’re better than this conversation,” Pramila Jayapal, founder of OneAmerica, an immigrant rights group, and a Murray supporter, said of the McGinn campaign smear.
Indeed. Murray and McGinn are both deep-blue progressives battling to lead a deep-blue city in which an attack, even an implication, of hidden racism is toxic.
In this case, it’s demonstrably preposterous. McGinn should strike it from his website, and both campaigns should close the curtain on this absurd drama.
With a month before Election Day, it’s past time to get back to real policy differences.