The race and/or religion of political candidates often plays a role in elections, but it is rarely invoked explicitly as a reason to vote for or against someone.
In a New York City city council race, however, race and religion are being cited completely explicitly.
New York City Council candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre just sent voters an email with the following subject line:
Stop Mark Levine (White/Jewish) From Stealing Black/Hispanic Political Power
The email message then picks up where the headline leaves off:
Check out my campaign website: thomaslopezpierre.com for the 7th NYC City Council in Upper Manhattan.
Outside political forces are trying to install a White/Jewish guy, Mark Levine to the 7th NYC Council District in Upper Manhattan. Read all about it here: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121203/morningside-heights/mark-levine-launches-city-council-campaign-amid-racially-charged-attacks
I need your support with a $175 contribution (or lower amount) to help stop Black and Hispanic people from losing political power in Upper Manhattan by contributing to my campaign so I can win in the September 2013 Democratic Primary.
Lopez-Pierre has been citing race and religion as a reason to vote for him for a while now. The Wall Street Journal asked him about this a month ago. He was entirely unapologetic:
In an interview, Mr. Lopez-Pierre confirmed he opposes Mr. Levine’s candidacy, in part, because of the colour of his skin.
“I oppose him because I support black empowerment, black and Latino empowerment,” Mr. Lopez-Pierre said. “He could be green. He could be Russian. I don’t care where he’s from. Harlem is a black and Latino community, and he’s not black or Latino. And I don’t care who he sleeps with, who he’s married to—he is not one of us.”
Mr. Lopez-Pierre denied that Mr. Levine’s religion was a factor in his opposition. But when asked why he repeatedly mentioned in his email Mr. Levine’s religion, he said he wanted to get media attention and because the word “Jewish” has a negative connotation in the black and Latino community.
“I don’t have a problem with his religion. I respect the Jewish religion,” he said. “I feel sorry for those people that will read this story and say, ‘Oh, he hates Jews.'”