Rantz: Lorena Gonzalez runs ‘morally disgusting,’ ‘anti-Black’ attack ad in mayor’s race

Oct 24, 2021, 1:04 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2021, 8:59 am

Seattle Council President Lorena Gonzalez, records requests...

Seattle Council President Lorena Gonzalez. (Seattle Channel)

(Seattle Channel)

Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez is getting desperate in the race for mayor. A recent attack ad created by one of her many consultants may have just killed her chances of winning.

Over three dozen leaders in Seattle’s Black community called a new attack ad “morally disgusting” and “anti-Black.” They argue the smear implies her opponent and frontrunner Bruce Harrell is connected to a white woman’s “trauma as a sexual assault victim.” The group is asking Gonzalez to pull the ad.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, has proudly displayed the attack ad on her personal Twitter account, pinning it to the top of her feed.

Lorena’s ‘racist’ ad against opponent

The ad features a woman identified as Caitlin F. of North Seattle. She says she was sexually assaulted five years ago and that the accused was never prosecuted. But the assault had as much to do with Harrell as it did Gonzalez.

Caitlin then weirdly pivots to Harrell initially defending former Mayor Ed Murray. At the time, Murray was facing accusations of child abuse.

The ad shows the front page of the Seattle Times from Sept. 17, 2017, as it covered Murray’s resignation. At the time, there were five accusers. Caitlin then quotes a statement Harrell made in July 2017, claiming he said, “people shouldn’t be judged by what they may have done in the past.”

That’s not what Harrell said, and the quote that appears on screen is out of context.

Harrell was responding to Gonzalez calling on the council to boot Murray from office based on the allegation. In that context, he said Seattle voters “did not ask us to judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn’t happen. We just don’t know.” He called for due process.

Caitlin also claims: “Bruce Harrell has repeatedly sided with abusers. As a Survivor, I could never vote for him.” However, she doesn’t explain why she’s comfortable voting for Gonzalez, who promises to cut the Seattle Police Department budget, which makes it more difficult to arrest the abusers. Nor does she reference Gonzalez praising Murray’s “collaborative approach and his tireless commitment to public service” after learning about the accusations against him.

The response to the attack ad was swift.

Nearly 40 Black leaders speak out

A who’s who of Seattle-area Black leaders penned a letter condemning the ad.

“Dangerous racist tropes involving the insinuation of Black men as insensitive to issues of sexual violence remain pervasive in our society,” the letter reads. “This painful and ugly part of our country’s history continues to this day. For you to perpetuate these race-baiting stereotypes in your campaign is a new low in our civic discourse, and an attempt to erase the decades of advocacy and accomplishments of Bruce Harrell, who has been an unflinching voice for victims of violence and discrimination throughout his career in law and politics.”

Signatories to the letter include Gerald Hankerson (Regional President, NAACP Alaska, Oregon, Washington), Rev. Harriett G. Walden (co-founder Mothers for Police Accountability), and State Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way).

“This ad is morally disgusting and traffics in anti-Black dog whistles that harm our community,” Paula Sardinas, an advocate for victims of assault and former member of the State African American Affairs Commission, said in a Harrell press release. “This issue touches and traumatizes not just our community, but my own family. My daughter was assaulted in 2016. As the mother of a survivor who works with victims every day, I am speaking out against a candidate who would rather campaign on fear than advocate for justice. This is exactly why we need Bruce Harrell as our mayor.”

Lorena should have known better

The ad isn’t actually racist — it’s just desperate and pathetic. To imply Harrell is somehow responsible for a victim’s trauma is gutter politics. That anyone expected something better from Gonzalez is confusing. This is who she is.

But if a similar ad targeted Gonzalez in this way, she’d cry racism. So for her to traffic in the same kind of smear she’d call out is deserving of condemnation. By her standards, the ad would be called racist.

I offer this observation not as a Harrell supporter, since I’m not. I don’t like either of them. But he’s clearly more moderate of a voice than Gonzalez.

Confusingly, Gonzalez should have known her ad would backfire. But she lives an insulated life in Seattle, surrounded only by the staff and interns that are likely too scared of her temper to tell her what life in Seattle is really like.

Instead of spending time getting to know the city she’s helped ruin, she’s spent a ton of the out-of-state money she received from national labor unions on consultants who are also out of state.

Lorena should spend less on the consultants

Most of the Gonzalez campaign’s war chest has gone to consultants working to make her likable with slick campaign ads not based on reality.

Gonzalez has spent at least $107,904.69 on Virginia-based Deliver Strategies, a direct mail consultancy. DC-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducts polling for the campaign, earning at least $102,750. For video production, Gonzalez paid $36,111 to 76 Words out of D.C. As of Oct. 11, 2021, the campaign listed an additional $82,016.93 to Deliver Strategies as outstanding debt.

Not all her consultants are out of state.

Gonzalez paid Katherine Bobman Consulting LLC, based in Seattle, at least $43,700. Seattle consultant Heather Weiner earned at least $10,072.14 for services.

Where did the money come from?

Gonzalez leaned heavily into democracy vouchers.

Rather than hope her supporters would send their campaign vouchers to the campaign, Gonzalez paid Prism Washington to collect them for her. Several would-be voters complained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that a volunteer for Gonzalez tried to mislead them into handing over their vouchers.

“People are asking individuals outside of Target to sign a document to protest rent hikes in Seattle,” one Seattleite emailed the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH in September. “I was willing to consider signing, but he didn’t immediately hand over the board, he just pointed where to sign. I stated that I won’t sign anything I can’t read and then he handed it over. It was a form authorizing my Democracy Vouchers over to Lorena Gonzalez. I immediately told the kid I don’t support her and he thanked me for my time.”

Alex Koren, with the Gonzalez campaign, promised that their “canvassers are trained to state clearly that they are collecting democracy vouchers for Lorena González.” He asked for more information so that he could look into the allegation. After I provided it, he did not respond to my follow-up.

Big union dollars to the rescue

Gonzalez is also benefiting from significant union dollars.

Unite Here Local 8 & UFCW Local 21 spent at least $439,090 in support of Gonzalez. They spent the funds on TV ads and mailers. It made sense for them to spend so much money on Gonzalez. It was probably expected. As councilwoman, she pushed through legislation to offer indefinite hazard pay to grocery workers in Seattle.

SEIU 775 Quality Care Committee tossed in an additional $16,000+ for Gonzalez. They offered support with digital ads and phone/texting to earn support for the councilmember.

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Rantz: Lorena Gonzalez runs ‘morally disgusting,’ ‘anti-Black’ attack ad in mayor’s race