Georgia Dems face backlash over flier urging vote to ‘prevent another Ferguson’

A new mailer being circulated in Georgia by the state’s Democratic Party is drawing criticism for linking the shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., to the upcoming elections.

The mailer, which uses images of black children holding signs that say, “Don’t shoot,” reads: “If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future … Vote.”

That message isn’t sitting well with some who say Democrats in the state have gone too far.

“It’s extremely insulting and deceptive,” Leo Smith, state director of minority engagement for the Georgia GOP, told Wednesday. “What the Democratic Party of Georgia has done is almost unfathomable.”

Smith says playing the race card for political gain in a state like Georgia that’s seen its share of racial tensions is not only patronizing but dangerous.

More On This...

    “They are treating black constituents as though we are uneducated. It’s emotional abuse,” Smith said.

    A copy of the mailer, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also shows a man on the street in front of police flares. The mailer cites the August killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and notes that the city population is mostly black – while the police force and city government leadership are mostly white.

    The mailer reads, “What are we going to do about it? If we want a better, safer future for our children, it’s up to us to vote for change. The choices may not always be perfect, but the cost of inaction is simply too great.”

    Michael Smith, the communications director for the Georgia Democratic Party, told that voter registration pushes are vital to the election process but did not comment on whether additional Ferguson-themed mailers would be sent out.

    “The fight for the right to vote and for every vote to be counted is part of our state’s history, a part of the fabric that makes Georgia what it is today,” he said in a written statement. “Our state and our democracy is stronger when more people participate. And we have seen what happens in places like Ferguson, Missouri, when voices are silenced.”

    Minority turnout is key for Democrats in close races in key states like Georgia and North Carolina which could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

    Like Democrats, Republicans also have expanded their minority outreach using aggressive get-out-the-vote campaigns in states like Georgia and Kentucky.

    Democrats see Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn as one of their best chances to win a seat and have redirected resources to the state. Both parties have spent millions in voter registration campaigns there.

    While black voters were key in electing President Obama and re-electing him in 2012, fewer black voters have showed up to the polls during midterm elections. During the 2010 elections, Georgia Republicans swept every statewide office and solidified their hold in the state legislature. During those elections, 441,000 few black voters cast ballots than had when Obama was elected. While the number bounced back some during Obama’s 2012 re-election, it's still lower than it was.

    Fighting for the minority vote in Georgia has led to name-calling and bold exchanges by both parties in the past few weeks, though the latest mailers from Georgia Democrats have some questioning just how far the parties will go to spread their message.

    Smith says the fliers linking Ferguson to voting could actually backfire.

    “What the Democratic Party of Georgia has done is disassociated voting from reality,” he said. “To associate voting for a Republican with the tragedy in Ferguson is unheard of.”

    When asked what the Georgia GOP would do in response, Smith said, “We will win.”