A direct mail piece targeting Democratic congressional candidate Andy Kim is being called blatantly racist by Democratic State Chairman John Currie.
The mailer was paid for by the New Jersey Republican State Committee, which supports the re-election of Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) in New Jersey’s 3rd district.
Currie’s complaint is the fish images, which the party leader things and an Asian-like font, play to Kim’s South Korean heritage.
“Congressional Republicans like Tom MacArthur can’t run on their record, because their only legislative accomplishment is a tax cut for billionaires and big corporations that screwed middle class taxpayers in New Jersey,” said Currie. “So they’re left with the kind of racist, dog whistle politics that this mailer demonstrates, trying to make a distinguished public servant like Andy Kim into an ‘other.’”
But Republicans pushed back strongly on Currie’s attack.
“This is an ugly attempt to change a bad news cycle for Andy Kim where he was given two Pinocchios from the Washington Post for lying about his resume again,” said Harrison Neely, a spokesman for the Republican State Committee. “False cries of racism are a sign that the Kim campaign is coming unhinged down the stretch. Let’s not forget that Tom MacArthur has two Korean children.”
Kim, a former Obama White House staffer, is mounting a strong and well-financed challenge to MacArthur, a two-term incumbent.
“It’s not the first time MacArthur and his allies have used these despicable tactics and it likely won’t be the last time,” Currie said. “This just shows how important it is for Democrats and anyone tired of this brand of gutter politics to vote in November for real leaders like Andy Kim.”
A top state party official doubled down on their position that the GOP mailer is racist.
“Republicans can deny it all they want, but any reasonable person can see why showing an Asian-American candidate next to a pile of raw fish and dog-whistle font would raise some questions,” said Elizabeth Gilbert, the executive director of the Democratic State Committee. “MacArthur and his allies have already tried to smear Andy Kim as ‘not one of us’ and it’s starting to look like their whole campaign is based on making oblique references to his heritage, not talking about the issues that 3rd district voters care about like access to affordable health care and property tax relief.”
(Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include additional comment from the Democratic State Committee.)