Labor group really doesn’t want Virginians to forget ‘Macaca’

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The “macaca” controversy lives again.

A labor group has started an online ad campaign targeting former Virginia Gov. George Allen, now the Republican candidate for Senate, on things like the “Macaca” comment that damaged his 2006 Senate campaign.

Workers’ Voice, a political group associated with the AFL-CIO, has put up four different banner ads. The ads will run online, targeting union and non-union working families in Northern Virginia and Richmond, as well as African American and Latino households.

One ad reminds voters of the “Macaca” moment, when Allen, during his 2006 Senate campaign, was overheard using the term in reference to a man of Indian descent. The term can be used to refer to a monkey and was previously used as a derogatory term for black people. Allen later apologized.

Other ads tell voters that Allen “hung a confederate flag in his living room,” that he “voted against MLK day,” and that he “kept a noose in his law office.”

“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. “This is similar to, but even more offensive, than Mitt Romney secretly attacking 47% of all Americans.”

Allen’s Democratic opponent, former Gov. and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, has avoided these topics thus far in the Senate race, and no outside party had yet raised them. The discourse has focused primarily on policy.

The Allen campaign attacked the group, as well as Kaine – though his campaign was not involved in the ad.

“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,” said Emily Davis, spokeswoman for Allen. “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.”*

But Vale explained that with November quickly approaching, they felt it was time to remind voters.

“The race has basically been tied for over a year now, and as we’re now getting close to the end and more people are tuning in we thought this was the time to make a splash,” explained Vale.

Recent polls have varied, though they have generally favored Kaine – who has led five of the six most recent polls by anywhere between one-point to eight points. Nonetheless, the race is expected to be a nail-biter.

*This post has been updated with a comment from the Allen campaign.

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