I grew up in Benton, Arkansas, about 20 miles outside of Little Rock. It was a very racist town (when I grew up there, black people literally lived on the other side of the railroad tracks in what was known as “N-word Hill”). The year after I left, they extended my street into the Hill, which finally gave the entire neighborhood a second exit, in case of fire. This was the ’90s.
We were part of the Second Congressional district, so while it was very racist and mostly conservative, it was also reliably Democrat because we were a part of the same district as Little Rock, so there were a lot of black voters in the district (Little Rock is nearly 45 percent black). There’s not a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans in that district, though. Democrats are Methodists, and Republicans are Baptists. But if you wanted to win the district, you had to court the black vote, or at least not actively piss off black people.
I’m not sure why, but around 2010, it looks like the district went Republican, and the GOP has won the last four elections there fairly decisively. This year, however, I think it’s a closer race. Democrats have a guy named Clarke Tucker running, and based on all the fundraising emails I get from him, I assume he’s doing well in that regard, although the only poll I can find shows him down several points.
In any respect, a pro-Trump Super PAC called, I sh*t you not, “Black Americans for the President’s Agenda,” has gotten involved in the campaign, and based on the radio ad they are running in the Second District, I’m not sure there are actually very many Black Americans behind “Black Americans for the President’s Agenda.”
Listen to this. Prepare for your jaw to drop.
This is a real radio ad currently running in Arkansas in support of Republican Congressman French Hill on radio stations targeted to the African American community. I don't even have words to describe it. pic.twitter.com/vpzt1nGPlc— (((Ben Tribbett))) (@notlarrysabato) October 18, 2018
Holy shit! They’re using Brett Kavanaugh to encourage Black people to vote Republican, because the Democrats will ignore due process — as apparently evidenced by the Kavanaugh hearings — and start lynching Black people again. “If you get caught, she will cry rape … we can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to the bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.”
To be fair, French Hill — the incumbent Republican in that district — has denounced the ad. “I condemn this outrageous ad in the strongest terms. I do not support that message, and there is no place in Arkansas for this nonsense.” The ad has been running for about a week and a half, and the Super PAC is basically funded by a guy named Vernon Robinson, who led the efforts to get Ben Carson elected President in 2015. He calls the ad payback for the Kavanaugh hearings.
Robinson is very open about why he is running the ad, as he told The Washington Post: “The ad was born out of a simple calculation: that black voters — ‘a constituency that Democrats have to win,’ he said — could be convinced to fear the specter of false rape allegations.”
Wow. Just wow.
I hope it backfires, though I suspect that by denouncing it, French Hill is going to benefit from being the good cop to Vernon Robinson’s bad cop. It is messed up.
In the meantime, a guy named French Hill is beating a guy named Clarke Duncan? What the hell happened to you, Arkansas?
Also, for those of you reading from Little Rock, I see that Warwick Sabin is running for mayor! I went to college with that dude, knew him a bit, and traveled in similar circles. Good guy. Ambitious as hell. He was a New Yorker, so I have no idea why he decided to stay in Arkansas after Clinton, but good for him.