One of New Jersey’s least competitive counties is causing an eleventh-hour stir as county and congressional incumbents brace for election day. The N.J. Black Mayors Alliance for Social Justice and a clutch of legislative Democrats are calling a recent mailer sponsored by the Burlington County Republican organization racist.
The mailer depicts a map of the state with a pin stuck onto majority-black Newark, and reads “If you don’t want Burlington County to turn into this part of New Jersey, then vote for the people who make our county a special place to live!”
The group described the overtones of the mailer as “blatant racism,” and accused the Burlington Republicans of using the “same divisive rhetoric as the Trump campaign and its cheerleader-in-chief, Chris Christie.” Governor Chris Christie is the leader of Donald Trump’s White House transition team in a campaign that has been marked by the candidate’s controversial comments and policies with regard to race and immigration.
Burlington County Republican Chairman Bill Layton was not immediately available for comment. The county is one of several major Republican stronghold in otherwise Democratic-leaning New Jersey.
See the full mutual statement from Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, NJ State Democratic Party Chairman John Currie, Essex County Democratic Party Chairman Leroy Jones, Senator Teresa Ruiz, Senator Ron Rice, Governor Dick Codey, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, Assemblywoman Blonnie Watson, Assemblyman Tom Giblin Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor-Marin and Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver below.
The Republican Party of Burlington County has mailed local residents an appeal for votes based on undisguised racism that relies on racial and economic stereotypes. The flyer states, “If you don’t want Burlington County to turn into this part of New Jersey, then vote for the people who make our county a special place to live. The mailer features a large map of northern New Jersey with Newark in large bold lettering and a large red push pin stuck into Newark.
The not so subtle message is that Newark and its suburbs are all that white voters fear in a community: Black, Latino, Poor, Dangerous, and Blighted. The characterization is slanderous and false. It exploits the worst racial stereotyping. The message is that if you elect Democrats, minorities will take over your community and destroy it. You will be driven out.
The theme of the Burlington Republicans is the same divisive rhetoric as the Trump campaign and its cheerleader-in-chief, Chris Christie. The Trump campaign is toxic and contagious. It’s blatant racism has emboldened local Republican candidates and given them permission to campaign on a message that has heretofore been confined to white supremacists.
We urge the voters of Burlington County to come out and vote in record numbers this year. Every vote against the Burlington Republican candidates and against Donald Trump will send a message that our communities reject those who seek to divide us for political gain. And we call on our legislative colleagues of both parties to stand with us and denounce the hateful Burlington Republican campaign.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.