(The Root) — The old race card is being used in a whole new way in Nevada politics. Or perhaps it’s not the race card but the black card. Last week, opponents of one African-American candidate for office seemed to be aiming to rescind his by accusing him of faking his race.
The Las Vegas Sun reports that, in an attempt to defend himself after poorly received comments about his strategy for locking in the black vote (he touted his ties to basketball as evidence that he could relate to African Americans), Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian had a pretty inflammatory assessment of the campaign strategy of Steven Horsford, the state’s first African-American Senate majority leader.
Tarkanian said in remarks to a GOP club: “We could be like Steven Horsford, who’s not doing anything with that community and, you know, pretend we’re black and maybe try to get some votes if that’s where it is.”
Hmmm … we don’t think being a white Republican and deeming yourself the authority on who is and isn’t black in order to scoop up whatever votes that frees up is “where it is.” At all.
However, given the murky and subjective world of racial identity and the ever-increasing hostility of politics, it’s actually somewhat surprising that we don’t hear debates about candidates’ racial bona fides more often (maybe because that whole “Obama isn’t black enough” thing never caught on). This is probably the last about Horsford’s blackness or lack thereof that we’ll hear from Tarkanian, though. He has now said that the statement was “inarticulate” and what he meant was that Horsford “has ignored the community … and he can’t expect to get votes from there.”
Whether or not that’s an accurate assesment, it’s a legitimate point to debate. Maybe he should have left his opponent’s race out of it and said that in the first place?
Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root’s staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.