Democrats have a problem with understanding the importance of refraining from using crude ethnic and religious slurs to attack campaign opponents. SHIFT recently reported on the despicable attack made on Republican state Senate hopeful Mark Miloscia on the basis of his Catholic faith.
But, the attack on Miloscia isn’t the first time Democrats have engaged in disgraceful slurs to disparage Republican candidates in Washington State. This Throw Back Thursday, SHIFT is looking back on another sleazy, ethnic attack Democrats engaged in during Republican Dino Rossi’s 2008 gubernatorial bid.
While the attack on Miloscia’s faith originated from an anonymous source closely tied to Democrat Shari Song’s campaign, the ethnic slur against Rossi originated from the Washington State Democrats. In 2008, the state Democrat party ran a political advertisement that linked Rossi—who is of Italian-American descent—to the theme song for “The Sopranos,” a TV show is about Italian-American mobsters.
The intention was clear, Democrats compared Rossi to Italian gangsters—on the basis of his ethnicity. After the Italian Club of Seattle protested, the party “pulled the ad and spokesman Kelly Steele issued a weak apology” that included a ridiculous justification. Steele stated, “It’s a catchy song, which we thought jibed stylistically with our communication about Rossi’s designated attack squad — the BIAW — who continue to pour millions into false and misleading attack ads against Governor Gregoire.”
As the Seattle Times pointed out, “Hundreds of catchy tunes are available that don’t link an Italian-American individual to a show about gangsters.” Democrats’ apology and justification were “insufficient to make up for the insult offered by pretending Rossi is somehow connected to organized crime.”
It’s time our state’s Democrats learn that it is never okay to attack others with ethnic and religious slurs—not even during a race they fear they will lose.