- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

A careful look at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend her campaign's flirtation with hiring consultant Julius Henson to scare black voters into voting against Republican nominee Robert Ehrlich, her strident defense of affirmative action and her efforts to insinuate that Jewish Marylanders have no business voting for Republicans suggests that sowing racial and ethnic discord are key components of her campaign.
Mr. Henson said that after he called Mr. Ehrlich a "Nazi" in an interview with The Washington Post, Townsend campaign manager Karen White told him that the Democrats still wanted him to work undercover for the Townsend camp. "She said the Jewish community is so up in arms that they have to get rid of me. But 'we still want you to work undercover, and we'll work it out. We'll pay you in some kind of way,' " he said.
A debate which was held last Thursday in Baltimore at Morgan State University, an historically black school, and sponsored by the ostensibly nonpartisan NAACP took place before an audience packed with Townsend backers, who booed Mr. Ehrlich's family when they were introduced at the start of the debate and jeered many of his answers. Mrs. Townsend played to the crowd by employing inflammatory rhetoric in an attempt to make the case for affirmative action.
Mr. Ehrlich, she declared, her voice quavering with emotion, "opposes affirmative action based on race. Well, let me tell you, slavery was based on race. Lynching was based on race. Discrimination was based on race … and affirmative action should be based on race." To many observers, this nonsensical formulation made it sound like Mrs. Townsend was likening affirmative action to such odious activities as lynching and slavery. But, regardless of substance, this line was a big hit with Townsend partisans in the debate hall.
Alarmed by a spate of press reports that Mr. Ehrlich is making inroads into the Jewish community, a longtime bastion of support for Democratic candidates, Mrs. Townsend met last month with editors of the Baltimore Jewish Times (JT) in an effort to re-emphasize her support for abortion, gun control and throwing more money at the public schools. "To put it mildly and succinctly, she came to the JT offices because she doesn't understand why any Jew who really understands the issues could support" Mr. Ehrlich, the newspaper, which has a somewhat liberal political bent, reported. Yet, appearing on WBAL Radio's "Bruce Elliott Show" last Saturday, Mrs. Townsend testily denied having told the Jewish Times any such thing. For its part, the Jewish Times stands by the quote.
For Mrs. Townsend, the unfortunate reality is that a growing number of black and Jewish voters are moving away from knee-jerk liberalism. As more traditionally Democratic constituencies rethink their alliance with the party of Mrs. Townsend and Mr. Henson, the Democratic bosses in Annapolis, their power slowly slipping away, are growing increasingly desperate.


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