Mumia Abu-Jamal Presence in Bucks Race Shows Desperation on Right
Why is Mumia Abu-Jamal suddenly a hot topic in a Bucks County congressional race?
The National Republican Congressional Committee’s ads for Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick are doing their damnedest to link the Democratic challenger, attorney Kathy Boockvar, to the long-imprisoned Philadelphia convict, whose 30-year stint on death row was commuted to a life sentence last year. It’s an eye-rollingly bizarre stretch of a campaign strategy, not to mention a shamelessly race-baiting one—one that’s reminiscent of George H. W. Bush’s infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” ads associating Michael Dukakis with a Massachusetts murder convict.
The NRCC is dubbing Boockvar “Radical Kathy” in online ads, suggesting that she has “troubling connections” to Abu-Jamal. Those connections? Her husband, also a lawyer, represented a witness in the case who recanted her testimony, and, according to the Daily News, “did legal work for a protester who was arrested at a “Free Mumia” event”—who was Abu-Jamal’s literary agent.
The NRCC actually created a “Radical Kathy” Tumblr page, depicting the Democrat’s face alongside protestors destroying buildings, resisting arrest and holding an #OccupyWallStreet sign.
“Despite her rhetoric, Kathy’s record shows she’s a radical activist lawyer on the fringe of the left,” the site reads. “Radical Kathy is the wrong fit for Bucks County.”
In addition to the Abu-Jamal accusations, the site claims Boockvar “worked as an activist lawyer to help felons vote,” and, in some fantastic Sarah Palin-esque delivery, asserts that she “pals around with left-wing bomb throwers” because she was an attorney at the Advancement Project. Oh, and the icing on top: The website uses a graphic of a syringe to hyphenate the words “Left” and “Wing” because, as they claim, Boockvar also “supports returning children to addicted, abusive mothers.”
Politics is great, isn’t it?
During a pro-Obama event last week, former Gov. Ed Rendell denounced the attacks as “just disgusting,” noting Fitzpatrick “should be embarrassed by it, and he should be ashamed.” And keep in mind that Rendell was the district attorney when Abu-Jamal was prosecuted for murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
Rendell will join Boockvar, District Attorney Seth Williams and Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown in Center City today to call on Fitzpatrick to have the ads pulled. A press release regarding today’s news conference notes the group will release “new information regarding Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and the National GOP’s blatantly false and vicious attacks.”
Fitzpatrick has thus far refused to repudiate the ad. He’s in a real battle for re-election this year, which likely explains the NRCC’s desperately cuckoo viciousness.
The congressman has represented Pennsylvania’s 8th District since winning the seat back from Patrick Murphy in 2010—and before that, from 2005 to 2007. Riding the coattails of the Tea Party, Fitzpatrick stumbled into office by missing his swearing-in ceremony but claiming he’d held his hand up to a television showing it on CSPAN, so perhaps that counted.
As it happens, the Eighth district once included part of Northeast Philadelphia until it was redrawn to fully suburban representation last year. One of the first bills Fitzpatrick co-sponsored during the new Congressional session was the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which would have redefined rape so that Medicaid funds could not go toward an abortion of a woman who’d been raped in non-violent circumstances.
When asked about the Abu-Jamal issue on Thursday, Fitzpatrick dodged, saying he’s “focused on jobs and the economy.”
Not that we’re necessarily surprised by any of this. What two years ago looked like another winning year for the Republican Party seems to be slipping away. Polls show congressional races deadlocked nationally, at 46 percent up, between Republicans and Democrats. And despite Mitt Romney’s dominant tactics at Wednesday’s debate and a bump in some national polls, most still expect President Obama to win re-election.
While the Mumia stuff may rile up a couple voters here and there, this much is certain: When the phrase “cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal” makes an appearance in a campaign, you know your candidate—and the national party which approved the attack—is desperate.