A Florida Republican congressional candidate’s campaign sign was vandalized with whiteface paint last week in a district with overwhelmingly Democratic voter registration. The attack follows a string of bias incidents against black Republicans.
Glo Smith, who reports that she has also had a number of signs stolen, tells National Review Online she became aware of the racist defacement of an eight-foot-by-four-foot sign Tuesday. The sign was situated on private property in view of Interstate 10 in Jacksonville. The vandal sprayed white paint over the face of Smith, who is African-American. The paint job appears to be carefully done and leaves the eyes untouched, creating a very creepy effect.
Smith is challenging long-sitting Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown in Florida’s Fifth Congressional District, a serpentine product of post-2010 redistricting where Democratic registration is above 60 percent. Brown clobbered her Republican challenger in 2012 with more than 70 percent of the vote.
This year two Republicans are vying to end Brown’s 21-year House career. Smith, a former staffer for Governor Rick Scott whose full name is Gloreatha Scurry-Smith, will face fellow Republican Thuy Lowe in a late-August primary. Smith reports that polling indicates she is leading Lowe, and according to Ballotpedia she had raised eight times as much money as of April.
The two Republican contenders joined in deploring the racist attack, however.
“We expect signs to be tampered with or stolen,” Smith says, “but not to this extent.” She has not reported the episode to police, but a tweet from the Smith campaign blew up over the weekend.
“I was shocked by this,” Lowe tells NRO. “There have been some comments out there that this may have been caused by bigotry. This is a message that she is an African American woman who is a Republican and therefore has a white point of view.” Lowe acknowledged that her own signs have been vandalized in previous campaigns and speculated that Corinne Brown loyalists may have been behind the attacks, adding, “Glo is well respected in the conservative community.”
The incident follows a recent pattern of racist attacks by both liberal media and anonymous thugs against black Republican candidates, officials and office holders. In March, Ebony Magazine senior editor Jamilah Lemieux assailed Republican National Committee deputy press secretary Raffi Williams as “a white dude telling me how to do this Black thing.” In May, Bloomberg journalist Francis Wilkinson slammed South Carolina Senator Tim Scott as an “affirmative action” tool of right-wing extremists.
Smith says her husband discovered the vandalism and the campaign hesitated before making the incident public. “Throughout this entire incident, I go back to Marin Luther King’s comment that we look forward to a time when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Although there have been a spate of fake bias incidents in recent months, Smith affirmed that the attack on the sign was a real incident. “I’ve got too much work to focus on to be bothering with things like this,” she added. “People are ready for a change. Corinne Brown has been there for more than 20 years.”
Brown’s office declined a request for comment.
— Tim Cavanaugh is news editor of National Review Online. Follow him onTwitter and Facebook.