Aug 292012

Supporters of City Council candidate accuse opponent of “racism”.

The general rule of political campaigning is to first build up your candidate, and only start attacking his opponent if the latter seems to be winning.   It makes little sense to build your opponent’s name recognition early on as voters are likely to remember the name but not necessarily the sin.  Negative campaigning, moreover, is not without its dangers; do it wrong and you risk alienating voters.

A popular tactic is to use proxies for your attack: people who are not officially part of your campaign so that you can deny your personal involvement.  Unfortunately, voters are smart and usually see through this and interpret any negative attack on one candidate as coming from his main opposition.

Good campaign managers know all this, and Charlie Gilcrest is good.  First time candidates, however, often believe they know better and strike out on their own.  This seems to be what happened in the case of Gilcrest client Benny Lee, who is running for the District 4 City Council seat against Chris Crow (whom I support) and Darlene Daevu.   Lee, a social conservative who registered Democrat for this race, has been very active in his Heron Bay neighborhood, but he lacks name recognition in the city as a whole.  His close association with former Mayor Tony Santos, moreover, could be a liability.

As one of his first campaign moves, Lee instigated what could only be described as a dirty attack on Crow.  Crow had posted a link on his private Facebook page,only visible to his Facebook friends, to a news story that quoted the mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist party on the poor performance of Chinese athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games.  According to the spokesman, Chinese athletes cannot compete against westerners because the latter have bigger chests and heads.  Crow found the excuse absurd and ironically commented above the link “so I suppose they really were cheating in 2008 when they took home more Gold medals than the USA or they are the sorest losers in the world.”

Lee, a Chinese-American and Crow’s sole Facebook friend with ties to the players in this saga, apparently saw this comment as an opportunity to play the “race card” and try to portray Crow as “anti-Chinese”.  Lee’s friends quickly contacted Steven Tavares, a friendly blogger, and concocted a story about how the Chinese community was outraged at Crow’s remarks.   As proof, Tavares quoted  several Lee supporters, without identifying them as such.  “He is accusing every Chinese in the world of being cheaters” said Hendy Wijaya (aka Hendy Huang), insisting Crow withdraw from the race.  “When someone coughs up something like that, the heart and mind is discriminating” stated Eduardo Collaco.   Many anonymous comments followed calling Crow a racist.

Dirty and silly campaign tactics are, unfortunately, not new to San Leandro nor to Lee’s cohorts in particular.  In 2010, Lee, Wijaya and Collaco, along with Tavares, were among the biggest supporters of ex-Mayor Tony Santos on his bid for re-election.  Tavares published story after story demonizing Santos’ main opponent, now Mayor Steven Cassidy.  Hendy Huang, meanwhile, filed a complaint against Cassidy with the Fair Political Practices Commission alleging Cassidy broke the law by wearing a campaign t-shirt while being “dunked” at a school festival  (Huang, as an aside, tried to have the 9th grade campus named after himself).  The complaint was promptly dismissed.  Santos himself tried to portray Cassidy as racist by suggesting that some anti-Asian/anti-Santos graffiti found in Heron Bay was campaign related.   Lee, meanwhile, has faithfully followed Santos on the anti-rank choice voting campaign he started after losing re-election.   Santos is now paying Lee back by being a vocal participant in the attacks against Chris Crow.

While Crow should not be surprised at the vitriol that characters like Santos and Wijaya/Huang will show throughout the campaign, he is perplexed about the allegations of racial bias against Asians.  Crow grew up in an Asian-American household; his grandmother escaped North Korea after losing her whole family in the war.   He’s lived his whole life in post-integration San Leandro and his circle of friends include people of all races and colors.  His proudest accomplishment is having founded “Team Craig“, an organization which first fundraised to help pay for the medical needs of a Filipino-American friend with cancer, and that now provides scholarships to High School students in Craig’s honor.   Perhaps more poignantly, Crow coaches wrestling at the High School, where most of the team is composed of Asian-Americans.  Despite their alleged “small chests and heads”, Crow believes several have the potential to win gold medals at the Olympics, regardless of what any Chinese Communist Mouthpieces might say.

  5 Responses to “And the Mudslinging Begins!”

  1. Do I wish I had so much power to do all suggested here-talk about ‘dirty campaigns,” I am sure you followed all the blatent coming out of cassidy’s mouth in 2010, but that is past-at least I don’t pass myself off as a “lawyer” when I am not; nor do I claim to be involved in organizations for which I do not belong-such as the writer of thrash-it might be better for the writer to get a real job instead of putting out garbage which is not true, but thanks for the publicity-I am waiting for next time the writer uses title “Lawyer,” then let’s see what happens–

    • Tony, I refuse to reply to an ad hominem attack that is so badly written. Get a spell checker, some help with grammar and punctuation and try again.

  2. You are a blogger who moonlights as a member of the local Democratic Central Committee. I’m a journalist who protects city after city in the East Bay and stands for working men and women.

    You’re an elected official. I wonder how effective and trustworthy you are when your spouting out all over the Internet. If I was on the committee with you, I wouldn’t trust your confidence for the world.

    It’s been an eternity since 2010, ma’am. I’m all grown up now and thousands of loyal readers rightly trust my judgment. In short, don’t play with fire or risk being the next Joel Young or Jesus Armas.

    Besides, how many fucking blogs do you have?

    • Steve, journalists don’t threaten people with bad press if they say something they don’t like. Bullies do. You’ve learned a lot in two years and you have improved your writing, but you still haven’t understood that as long a you use your blog – and your articles on the East Bay Express – to advance a political or personal agenda, you cannot really be considered a journalist. And because you are not transparent about your agenda, you cannot really be trusted.

      You are also not transparent about your sources, which in itself wouldn’t be a problem if you corroborated the information they gave you and tried to interpret it yourself. Parroting what you get from the Santos, Shawn Wilson and the like doesn’t give you credibility, quite the contrary. Getting things wrong, as you often do, limits the effectiveness of your attempts to “protect city after city”. And don’t be so foolish as to confuse readers with supporters or page hits for readers. I read your blog from time to time because I find it amusing, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

      Finally, the Democratic Central Committee is an open institution, any Democrat can attend the meetings, I’m not sure what “confidences” you think there are to be kept.

      • Oh, and so that we are clear. I never comment on your blog, though I will give you the courtesy of replying to you here. I am quite happy with you having your readers and commenters, and I having mine.

        And I feel no need to respond to your personal attacks, though I think they well illustrate my point about your penchant for using your blog in this manner. So feel free to spew whatever you want against me. I hope it makes you feel better.

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