Primary Day Roundup

The Arkansas Democratic primary race between incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Governor Bill Halter looks like it will go to a runoff.  Both candidates currently have about 43 percent of the vote; 50 percent of the vote is needed to advance to the general election.

The Arkansas primary race was notable because there were several attack ads and mailers that accused Halter of outsourcing jobs to India.  An anti-Harper mailer written partially in Hindi was sent to voters late last week.

The two candidates will face either other again on June 8th.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, it looks like Manan Trivedi has won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. Once it is official, Trivedi will face incumbent Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA) in November.

Note: Have I missed any South Asian-related primary news? I will be updating this post throughout the day.


Taj Mahal prominently featured on Lincoln mailer

Via the Huffington Post, more news from the Arkansas Senate race. The Democratic primary is on May 18.

Below are images of a mailer that was sent out recently by the “Friends of Blanche Lincoln.” Interestingly, the mailer uses images of the Taj Mahal to illustrate India, while the Americans for Job Security ad that began airing earlier in the week was set in Bangalore. It is unclear whether this advertisement was produced before Lincoln’s condemnation of the “Thank You” ad.

Here’s first panel:

Lest you thought that reason was “Because his company really liked UNESCO World Heritage sites” or “The company wanted to pay its respects to Mumtaz,” the mailer answers the question on its third panel:

You can see the entire mailer here. (Also, note the Aladdin-esque city skyline that appears on each page.)

A question for Arkansas readers: How has Halter responded to this discussion about outsourcing? If you have any links or images, please leave them in the comments.

(Hat Tip: The Plum Line)

More on the ‘Thank You’ ad

Neera Tandon of the Center for American Progress weighs in on the ‘Thank You’ ad over at The New Republic:

The poorly produced ad, which somehow cost Americans for Job Security $900,000, trades in crude cultural clichés and carries the clear implicit message: Don’t vote for that politician who does business with the funny-sounding Indians.

Our society strangely tolerates mocking Indians. There are never, for instance, ads attacking outsourcing to Ireland with Irish actors, even though that country has made a major push to become an outsourcing hub. Or imagine an ad featuring Hassidic Jews and klezmer music and the outrage that would generate. Or remember the storm of condemnation that rightly rained down on Senator Bob Corker for his racially-tinged attack on Harold Ford. Yet, similar treatment of Indians seems to be perfectly acceptable in many quarters.

Read the whole thing here.

(Hat tip, @sepiamutiny)

FYI, inspired by yesterday’s craziness in the comment section, this blog now has a comment policy. Please check it out before you comment.

Bangalore Loves Bill Halter

Courtesy of the “Americans for Job Security“, I now have a new favorite political attack ad of all time.*

As political junkies across the country closely watch the Arkansas Senate race and Senator Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AK AR) struggle to hold onto her seat, the “Americans for Job Security” have released this ad against Bill Halter, Lincoln’s opponent in the Democratic primary:

As I’ve probably mentioned before, Bangalore is my family’s hometown and it isn’t everyday when you see an entire campaign spot filled with characters who represent your relatives. It’s extra special when you actually recognize streets and stores in the background of said advertisement. (More on this a bit later.)

Here’s a quick look at why I find this ad so interesting:

1) As Amardeep of Sepia Mutiny points out, “the “our jobs are going to India” bogie [sic] is also still alive and well in American politics.” (I was hoping this meme peaked in 2004.)

2) Despite outward appearances, this ad wasn’t produced by Senator Lincoln or her allies. According to Open Secrets, Americans for Job Security is a “a pro-Republican, pro-business organization” that was founded in 1997. Executive Director David Carney formerly worked for President George H.W. Bush.

3) In a post titled “Worst Ad Ever? Arkansas Senate Race Hits New Low”, Politics Daily reports that Lincoln spoke out against the ad on Saturday:

“I condemn the television ad reportedly scheduled to air in Arkansas sponsored by a group called Americans for Job Security,” Lincoln said. “It is offensive and doesn’t belong in Arkansas. As a victim myself of constant negative attack ads by outside third party groups since early March, I deeply regret that their participation in this campaign isn’t more constructive.”

4) Despite the condemnation noted above, a quick glance at the Facts section of Lincoln’s election website shows the extent the Lincoln campaign is playing up Halter’s ties to India. On the first page alone the word “India” shows up 22 times, while “Outsourcing” and “Bangalore” pop up 13 and 7 times respectively.

5) Finally, a shout out to the producers of the spot. To their credit, that is actually Bangalore on the green screens behind the actors. At 00:20 you can see a glimpse of Jayanagar’s 4th Block. (You can even clearly read the Raymond’s sign.)

*If you are curious, my former favorite attack ad of all time can be found here.