Court race ad criticized as racist
October 30, 2004
A campaign flier favoring attorney Joel Hansen over Justice Michael Douglas, the first black on the Nevada Supreme Court, was criticized Saturday by Douglas backers for having racial overtones and defended by the political activist who circulated it.
The flier states in headline-size type, “Compare” followed by “The difference is clear.” On either side are pictures of Douglas and his wife, who is white, and of Hansen and his wife, who are white.
Below the pictures are several paragraphs that discuss the candidates’ differing positions on issues including the Nevada Constitution, taxes, crime and other matters.
The flier was put out by Tony Dane of “We the People,” a political action committee formed after the state Supreme Court’s controversial ruling last year that helped end a deadlock over taxes in the state Legislature.
Hansen, of Las Vegas, a longtime leader in Nevada’s Independent American Party, said he didn’t authorize the ad and hadn’t seen it.
Douglas described the flier as a deliberate attempt “to appeal to people with a very limited mind-set.” He added he’s running on his qualifications and experience as a judge and “ultimately that’s what people should be caring about.”
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Dan Hart, Douglas’ campaign consultant, termed the flier “despicable,” adding, “Hopefully most of the people exposed to this will be disgusted.”
Political consultant Gary Gray, who’s not involved in the Douglas campaign, said the flier “absolutely” seeks to inject race into the high court contest and questioned Dane’s motives in including pictures of the candidates’ spouses.
“Just when you think politics couldn’t get any lower they find a way to drop it further,” he said of Dane, adding, “It’s time for Nevadans to prove once and for all that they choose by qualifications and not by race.”
Dane termed the criticism of the flier insulting, adding that because Douglas is black “everyone wants to raise the race flag. You get accused of being a racist. That kind of attitude needs to come to a stop.”
“I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but that’s not one of them,” said Dane, who has been involved in several political controversies over the years in southern Nevada.
“There’s no racial overtones whatsoever,” Dane said. “To say it’s racial to use pictures of the husbands and wives is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. I do pieces similar to that all the time, showing the families of both people running.”
“All of this comes from their whining because they’re behind in the polls. That’s what this comes out to.”
A Las Vegas Review-Journal poll conducted this week showed Douglas with a 31-25 percent edge over Hansen in the race for Seat F on the Supreme Court.
The poll also showed 44 percent of the respondents hadn’t made up their minds. Earlier poll showed the race was even or had Hansen with a slight lead.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., conducted telephone interviews with 625 registered Nevada voters who said they probably would vote, or already had voted, in the general election. It had a margin for error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The poll results for two other state Supreme Court races were favorable for Clark County District Judge Ron Parraguirre and Washoe County District Judge Jim Hardesty.
In the Seat A race, 41 percent of those polled said they favored Hardesty, while 23 percent said they preferred Clark County Family Court Judge Cynthia “Dianne” Steel.
Parraguirre, who is running for Seat E, received support from 46 percent of the respondents, while 25 percent backed Reno entertainment attorney John Mason.