In a pair of contested state Senate campaigns, allegations are being made over anti-Catholic prejudice and the way one senator has characterized his opponent’s door-belling volunteers.
Let’s start with the latter. Fuse Washington released a recording Friday morning that purports to capture Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, on audio at a King County GOP dinner on Oct. 18 disparaging the people, some of whom are people of color, coming in to knock doors in opposition to his campaign. Hill, chief budget writer for the Majority Coalition Caucus, is in a tight race for the 45th District seat against Democrat and former naval officer Matt Isenhower. The speaker is introduced as Hill and sounds like him (full audio here and short version here). A transcript of the part mentioning door knockers reads:
“Hill: So what the (King County GOP) has been doing is building a phenomenal field team to match this. We’ve got a bunch of the field team right here. Where are they?
Hill: Where are they? Stand Up. These are the people that go door to door, knocking on doors, advocating for us, trying to figure out if you’re Republican or Democrat, trying to get you to turn in your ballot. Um, reports, they do not look like the ones the Democrats are sending out. I’ve had it. This is what a Democrat said: I won’t answer the door because they look like thugs.”
The door knockers campaigning against Hill in the 45th District include canvassers people of color — both staff and volunteers, according to Collin Jergens, communications director for Fuse Washington.
“To use [that language] in front of a large Republican crowd where he is a respected leader sends a powerful negative message,” Jergens said. “We expect our elected officials to represent all of us, not to use language that reinforces stereotypes and fears.”
Jergens shared a photo of Wednesday’s door knocking team:
A call and email to Jess Honcoop, Hill’s campaign manager, has not yet been returned.
In the 30th District, a graphic popped up last week showing Senate candidate Mark Miloscia wearing a bishop’s mitre and carrying a suitcase emblazoned with the Mississippi flag. Miloscia, a former House Democrat from Federal Way now running as a Republican, is a Catholic who after leaving the House, did some lobbying for the Washington State Catholic Conference. The graphic (seen below) appeared on an attack website called markmiloscia.info and later on campaign fliers that appeared at a candidate forum, according to Keith Schipper, Miloscia’s campaign manager.
The graphic has since come down from the website, only to be replaced by a random generator that shows lists of Miloscia campaign contributions and other pages addressing his religion, such as this one:
Schipper says Miloscia, who is facing Democrat Shari Song in another race considered competitve, has encountered attacks on his faith in a political context at least once before, during his unsuccessful run for state auditor.
“It’s unforunate in a city like Seattle, in a region like the Puget Sound and a state like Washington that prides itself on being open-minded … that there’s an exception to that on people of faith,” Schipper said.
Song, Miloscia’s opponent, disavowed the graphics. On her Facebook campaign page, Song wrote:
“There are lots of things in my opponent’s record that are fair game to take issue with. But I respect Mark Miloscia’s religion and I certainly don’t condone ANY of my supporters making attacks on that basis. I understand one of my supporters may have crossed the line of what is appropriate in that regard, and I’ve asked them to stop. This campaign should be about the issues, not personal attacks.”