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POLITICS

AFL-CIO plays race card in attacks on George Allen

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

The AFL-CIO, the nation’s leading labor coalition, has launched an attack on Virginia Republican Senate candidate George Allen, reviving charges that Allen is racially insensitive towards minorities in a series of charged ads.

The attacks are being funneled through a Political Action Committee called Workers’ Voice. The Center for Responsive politics identifies the AFL-CIO as the main backer of the group. The PAC’s website identifies the AFL-CIO as it’s “partner“, along with Moveon.org and the web site Daily Kos.

Virginia is a right to work state and Allen has been an staunch advocate of the law, which allows workers to opt out of having to join a union or pay dues to one as a condition of employment. He has opposed unions on other issues too.

In a press release, Worker’s Voice said:

Today, Workers’ Voice launched a series of ads in Virginia asking “George Allen kept what in his office!?”  The online ads highlight George Allen keeping a noose and confederate flag in his office, as well as his vote against MLK Day and his infamous Macaca slur.

“George Allen kept a noose and a confederate flag in his office and anyone who would insult the African American and Latino people of Virginia this way is not fit to hold office,” said Workers’ Voice Communications Director Eddie Vale.

The ads will be focused in northern Virginia  and Richmond regions, main targeting African-American and Latino households. The actual ad buy is fairly small, just $54,000 according to Vale. But it has succeeded in its main objective, reinserting the race issue back into the race.

“Since it’s online ads it actually is a significant buy,” Vale told the Examiner. “Also since it’s geo- and micro-targeted we’re only paying to reach the people we’re trying to reach and don’t have a lot of run off to non-targets.”

The ads revisit various controversies Allen has faced, most notably his referring to an Indian-American Jim Webb campaign staffer who was following him around and filming his events as “Macaca.” Allen has insisted it was a nonsense word that meant nothing while others have assumed it was a racial slur of some sort. Allen have since repeatedly apologized for the incident.

Allen has conceded also keeping confederate memorabilia in his office, arguing they were merely artifacts of  Virginia history. He has claimed the noose was actually a “more of a lasso.”

UPDATE: The Allen campaign responds:

It is disappointing to see that Tim Kaine and his union allies would stoop to this level rather than talk about the very serious issues facing Virginia families and small businesses.  George Allen has apologized and forthrightly addresses these old accusations, but when he is on the campaign trail he is hearing from Virginia families and small businesses concerned about skyrocketing fuel costs, burdensome regulations and increased taxes that are bringing uncertainty.  It’s ironic that the very labor unions leveling these attacks are the same ones that Tim Kaine worked so closely with as DNC Chairman and that stand in direct opposition to the Right-to-Work laws that give Virginia a crucial economic advantage in encouraging investment and attracting new jobs.

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