Home>Campaigns>Jewish GOP candidate calls Pelosi mailer anti-Semitic ‘dog whistle’

An attack mailer against NJ-3 GOP congressional candidate David Richter from the House Majority PAC. (Image: New Jersey Globe.)

Jewish GOP candidate calls Pelosi mailer anti-Semitic ‘dog whistle’

House Majority PAC says Richter’s religion was not involved

By David Wildstein, September 16 2020 12:01 am

Direct mail coming from Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC appears to accentuate but not modify the size of a Jewish Republican congressional candidate’s nose and depicts the candidate with loads of hundred dollar bills.

One of the three mailers show a digitally-altered David Richter with a suit jacket lined with money, with additional cash in his pockets and in a cardboard box behind him.  The others portray a similar tone.

“The photo-shopped caricatures of me portrayed in these mailers, always surrounded by piles of cash, is a well-known dog whistle to those who want to further divide our country in hate and stir up resentment against me and other candidates that are Jewish,” said Richter, a businessman who is challenging Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in New Jersey’s 3rd district.

The mailer places Richter’s head on someone else’s body.

Richter said that he wants Kim to speak up.

“Andy Kim claims to be a leader, well now is the chance for him to lead.  Kim should immediately and publicly disavow these anti-Semitic ads and reject any further support from the House Majority PAC,” Richter said.  “I also call on Nancy Pelosi to immediately issue an apology to everyone of the Jewish faith for allowing these disgraceful mailers to be sent to voters in my district.”

The House Majority PAC said the photos of Richter were untouched.

“The mail pieces have nothing to do with David Richter’s religion, and everything to do with the fact he ran a company into the ground,” said Brad Komar, the House Majority PAC Independent Expenditure director.

Komar said that the attacks on Richter were based on financial losses by Hill International, the mega-construction company where he served as CEO.

“While the company and his workers suffered, David Richter and his family took millions of dollars in salary, benefits and perks,” Komar stated.  “Perhaps David Richter would like to tell us what imagery he thinks is more appropriate to describe his corruption, mismanagement and fraud.”

The Kim campaign declined to comment on the PAC mailer.

The attack on Richter comes months after a Facebook deleted a provocative anti-Semitic page maintained by Rise Up Ocean County.  Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had pushed the social media company to remove it.

“At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, especially from the radical left, I’m extremely disappointed by the mailers that have been sent to voters in the Third District by Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC,” Richter stated.

Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Jewish Republican Coalition, called the mailer an “apathetic and outrageous anti-Semitic attack on David Richter.”

The group recently launched a $500,000 network and cable TV ad buy slamming Kim for advice he gave to President Barack Obama while serving as a White House national security staffer.

One Republican official said that Pelosi and Kim have failed to address an “alarming ride in anti-Semitism within the Democratic party.

“These advertisements flirt dangerously close to blowing a bigoted dog whistle linking David Richter to ugly stereotypes associated with the Jewish faith,” said Phil Valenziano, the executive director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee.  “Andy Kim needs to denounce the House Majority PAC’s campaign on his behalf and call for an immediate apology.”

The taunting of candidates based on their ethnicity, race – and even girth — is nothing new.

In 2018, a Republican mailer used a font known as “Chop Suey” that is often used by Chinese restaurants to attack then-candidate Kim in his campaign to unseat incumbent Tom MacArthur.   The mailer depicted several whole fish on ice and read: “Something is Real Fishy about Andy Kim.”

Democratic State Chairman John Currie said the mailer was “racist.”

Currie’s spokesman declined to comment.

Last year, Republicans alleged that an attack mailer against then-Assembly candidate Antwan McClellan, who is black, intentionally darkened his skin and whitened his teeth.

In a TV ad the New York Times called “as subtle as a playground taunt,” Gov. Jon Corzine’s re-election campaign accused rival Chris Christie of “throwing his weight around” while emphasizing his size.

“Mr. Corzine’s television commercials and Web videos feature unattractive images of Mr. Christie, sometimes shot from the side or backside, highlighting his heft, jowls and double chin,” reported David Halbfinger wrote.

Corzine defended the content of the ad but said he would probably have used a different phrase to describe Christie’s actions.

Earlier this summer, a Republican U.S. Senator from Georgia took down a Facebook ad that intentionally showed his Jewish opponent with an enlarged nose and blamed it on a vendor error.

“I’m Jewish,” said Democrat John Ossoff.  “This is the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history.”

(Editor’s note: this story was updated at 11:54 AM.  Richter’s photo was not altered, although the one used was at an angle that maximized the appearance of his nose that does not necessarily reflect other photos.  The combination of stereotypes — money (in a digitally altered photo) and a nose (in a photo that was not changed) — may have been unfortunate.)

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