By Fayetteville Observer (NC) October 21, 2014 11:55 am
Dawn McNair said she was surprised Sunday when her daughter pointed out the background on a political flier urging people to get out and vote.
The words are superimposed over a grainy reproduction of a photograph of what appears to be a lynching.
Someone tucked the flier under McNair’s windshield wiper while her car was parked at her church, Kingdom Impact Global Ministries on Murchison Road.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom, look in the background. They’re lynching somebody.’ It’s the lynching of an African-American man,” McNair said.
At the bottom, the flier reads, “Not endorsed by any candidate. Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County.” No contact information for the group was on the flier.
Democrat Kay Hagan is locked in a tight race for U.S. Senate with Republican Thom Tillis. She is the incumbent senator, and he is s the speaker of the N.C. House.
Polls have shown the race leaning toward Hagan but well within range for Tillis. Because of that and because the outcome of the North Carolina contest could determine whether the GOP takes control of the Senate, more than $100 million has been or will be spent on the race, much of it to pay for attack advertising and much of it spent by groups operating independently of the campaigns.
McNair, 39, said she was confused by the image on the flier and whether it was meant to scare her into voting or frighten her away.
Fliers attributed to Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County also were distributed at First Baptist Church on Moore Street. They had the same message but did not depict a lynching.
Jimmy Buxton, president of the Fayetteville branch of the NAACP, said Monday morning that he had not seen the flier. But he said he does not think the impeachment message is racist.
“That’s what the community feels,” he said. “That if the Senate is taken over by the Republicans, and it remains the Republicans (in the majority) in the House of Representatives, they’re going to impeach him.”
Some hard-right GOP lawmakers have called for the president’s impeachment, but party leaders have squelched the talk. Even if the GOP were to win control of the Senate, it would not have the two-thirds majority — 67 seats — necessary for an impeachment conviction.
Linda Devore, the county’s Republican Party chairwoman, said she does not know of a group called Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County.
“I think it’s unfortunate to use this kind of emotion as a means to getting people out to vote. It’s bad information,” Devore said. “It’s the wrong way to inform voters.”
Chris Hayden, a spokesman for Hagan, was quick to distance his candidate from the flier. He said, “I don’t know anything about the group or flier. We don’t coordinate with outside groups.”
Vikki Andrews of the local Democratic Party could not be reached for comment. Daniel Keylin and Meghan Burris, two people in the Tillis campaign, did not return telephone messages left late Monday afternoon.
Terri Robertson, director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections, said she had not seen the flier when first contacted by a reporter. But once it was described to her, Robertson said, “That would probably be intimidation to me.”
She planned to send a copy of it to the state Board of Elections and ask the state to look into it.
Curtis Worthy, a former five-term member of the Fayetteville City Council, helped organize a group called Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County in the 1990s. On Monday, Worthy said it has been a while since he was involved in the organization and he does not know if it still exists. There was no indication that the group listed on the leaflet had any connection with the group once connected to Worthy. That group was formed to protest the principal selection at Seventy-First High School.
Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at [email protected] or 486-3529.
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