The Blog

The Floridazation of American Politics

Democratic dirty tricks continue, in Maryland, New Hampshire, and at the DNC.

4:35 PM, Nov 5, 2002 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

THIS AFTERNOON DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe put out an alarming statement:

"We have seen 'anonymous' fliers displayed in predominantly African American communities in Baltimore, MD, with an incorrect Election Day date, warning voters to make sure their parking tickets are paid, their rent is not overdue, and they take care of any outstanding warrants before they go vote.

"A spokesman for the Maryland Republican candidate for Governor Bob Ehrlich was quoted saying their campaign plans include deploying off-duty police officers as poll watchers on Election Day.

"In Hidalgo County, TX, a Republican poll monitor for Republican Senate candidate John Cornyn had to be escorted out of the polling place by law enforcement for harassing senior Hispanic voters and using derogatory language.

"In New Hampshire, an owner and landlord of several so-called 'Section 8' housing developments sent letters urging his hundreds of elderly and disabled tenants to vote for Republican John Sununu for U.S. Senate, stating ominously that only through Sununu's efforts were the tenants 'assured' that they could 'continue to remain in [their] home.'"

It is worth examining each of his claims:

(1) Exactly four of the "anonymous" fliers were found in Baltimore, all in one place. Dan Ronayne, a spokesman for the RNC, says that Republicans "had not heard a single report about the existence of this flier until the Democratic press conference." Paul Ellington of the Maryland Republican party says, "that's just not our style."

And he would seem to be correct. After all, it was the Republican, Bob Ehrlich, who picked an African-American running mate (Michael Steele). And over the course of the race, it has been the Democrats who have engaged in racial slurs, passing out Oreo cookies at debates.

Additionally, a "prominent Democratic strategist" told one reporter that the flier has famed Democratic dirt-thrower "Bob Shrum's fingerprints all over it."

(2) Off-duty police officers will indeed be poll-watching--the same way they do every year. According to an Ehrlich spokesman, the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore always poll-watches for the candidate they support. They poll-watched for Parris Glendening and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 1998 and for Democratic mayoral candidate Martin O'Malley in 1999. This year they support Ehrlich.

(3) There is no agreement as to what exactly happened in Hidalgo County. It isn't clear whether this is the case of an overzealous poll monitor or an overzealous elections administrator. But what is clear is that the incident in question happened not this morning, but last Friday!

(4) It also isn't clear what has happened in the case of the Republican landlord in New Hampshire. Time will tell. But again, McAuliffe ignores the real story:

Kate Whitman, the communications director for the NH Republican state committee, says that in Bedford, a Republican stronghold, Democrats have petitioned to stop the counting of absentee ballots, alleging that many of the people who filed for absentee ballots aren't absent, but are still in town. To buttress their claims, it seems that Democrats are roaming town taking pictures of people who are on the list of those who petitioned for absentee ballots.

The only problem is that New Hampshire law doesn't require voters to be absent on Election Day, it merely stipulates that, at the time they apply for the ballot, they must believe they are going to be absent.

This is just a guess: Don't expect many election results to be finalized tonight. Democrats will make every distortion, fight every fight. The Floridazation of America continues, apace.

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard.