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Lawmaker wants McCrory to drop TV ad
N.C. senator says spot has racial undertones
Published Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:48 am
by Herbert L. White

The chairman of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus is criticizing gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory’s airing of a controversial TV ad with former Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay.

N.C. Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) sent a letter to McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor, taking offense with the ad that he says is racially charged.

“The 2012 election is a consequential one for our state and nation.  You are running for North Carolina’s highest office and seeking to lead a diverse state of 9.6 million people,” Gay wrote. “To be a legitimate leader, you must run a campaign worthy of our state — and the people you surround yourself with and those who validate you are a reflection upon you as a candidate and your values.”

The McCrory campaign dismissed the criticism.

“It’s puzzling to see how this has anything to do with the ad or the election,” McCrory spokesman Brian Nick told WRAL-TV. “This gentleman has an issue with Sheriff Gay. Our ad is focused on turning North Carolina around and it’s strange for someone to attack a positive ad.”

Gay, who switched his party affiliation to Republican after losing to former State Bureau of Investigation agent Calvin Woodard by 24 points in 2010, lauded McCrory, who is running against Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, for being a Raleigh outsider.

“Our only hope is Pat McCrory,” Gay said.

Gay blamed his loss on the racial motivation of black voters, who backed Woodard, an African American.

“I think the black community realized they had an opportunity to elect a black sheriff and I think they took advantage of it,” Gay told WRAL in 2010. “Ninety-eight percent of them voted based on race. They didn't vote based on qualifications.”

McKissick wrote: “Gay was wrong then and he’s wrong now.  Running an ad in which Gay says, ‘Our only hope is Pat McCrory’ begs the question of who is ‘our’?  This ad, with this script, featuring this man was no accident.  He triggers a racial cue that has no place in this campaign.”

The McCrory ad was produced by Fred Davis, who has been criticized for racially charged campaign ads in the past, including a commercial linking President Barack Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. 

“Your ad-maker has a history of both subliminal and overt racial divisiveness,” McKissick wrote. “The ad featuring Wayne Gay is offensive and plays upon fear. Thus, I call on you to take it down.”


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