- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2014

A Republican candidate for state Senate in Washington is being attacked anonymously for his Catholic views through a cartoonish flier that says he “has always worn his church on his sleeve” and has best represented the people of “the Vatican.”

It’s one of several over-the-top rhetorical attacks that pop up in the last weeks of election season, when identity politics and national security scares are pitched to a polarized electorate.

In the South, race-based appeals are popular ways to rally black voters, while Republicans tie opponents to terrorists.

In Washington state, the anti-Catholic ad targets Mark Miloscia, a Democrat turned Republican. It portrays the former state representative from Federal Way wearing a rosary and pope’s miter and carrying a briefcase adorned with the Mississippi state flag.

“Republican Mark Miloscia came from the Deep South … with plenty of baggage,” the flier reads. “‘Mississippi Mark’ has always worn his church on his sleeve. Rather than represent the people of Federal Way, he has best represented the people of The Vatican.”

Using crucifixes as a substitute for bullet points, the flier accuses Mr. Miloscia of being a “Lobbyist for the Catholic Church.”

Mr. Miloscia, who was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, has lobbied for the Washington State Catholic Conference.

Keith Schipper, campaign manager for Mr. Miloscia, denounced the flier and said he is frustrated that the final stretch of the campaign is being devoted to “scaremongering” rather than the issues.

“They’re doing their best to try to do some Vatican scaremongering to try to suppress the Miloscia vote,” he said.

The campaign of Democrat Shari Song, Mr. Miloscia’s opponent, said the attack has no place in the campaign and has asked for it to be pulled.

“I respect Mark Miloscia’s religion and I certainly don’t condone any of my supporters making attacks on that basis,” Ms. Song said in statement.

Mr. Schipper said he believes Keith Tyler, a former Federal Way City Council member and supporter of Ms. Song, is behind the website. Mr. Tyler, a Democrat, did not respond to a request for comment through his Facebook page.

Religious attacks seem rare, but appeals targeting racial groups are more common — particularly in states with significant black populations such as North Carolina, where Democrat Kay R. Hagan is trying to hold her Senate seat.

A few weeks ago in Fayetteville, North Carolina, churchgoers found fliers declaring that “Kay Hagan doesn’t win! Obama’s impeachment will begin! Vote in 2014.” The words were superimposed over an image of what appears to be a lynching.

The flier was paid for by Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County. The Hagan campaign has said it doesn’t know the group.

Just to the south, the Democratic Party of Georgia attempted to play on concerns over the shooting of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, over the summer by distributing a flier showing two boys holding “Don’t shoot” signs with the words “If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future … vote.”

The flier also contained background information about the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Republican attacks, meanwhile, play on fears of overseas threats.

David Perdue, who running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, ran an ad accusing Democrat Michelle Nunn of funding organizations linked to the terrorist group Hamas.

The ad, which was debunked by multiple fact-checkers, was based on part of a memo leaked by Ms. Nunn’s campaign anticipating how her time running the Points of Light Foundation, founded by George H.W. Bush, might be employed or framed in attack ads.

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