Elections

Republican Kathy Lambert deploys racist mailers in desperate bid to defeat Sarah Perry

For more than two decades, Repub­li­can Kathy Lam­bert has rep­re­sent­ed a large, suburban/exurban/rural swath of King Coun­ty on its leg­isla­tive body, the Coun­cil, with­out any seri­ous chal­lenge to her incumbency.

But this year, with all the signs sug­gest­ing that Lam­bert’s num­ber is up, the Red­mond Repub­li­can has decid­ed to resort to Trump-style gut­ter pol­i­tics and dog whistling to attack her Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Sarah Per­ry in the hopes that left lean­ing vot­ers will fill in the oval for her instead when vot­ing starts next week.

In a set of mail­ers being sent out to vot­ers across the dis­trict, Lam­bert is false­ly char­ac­ter­iz­ing her­self as an “inde­pen­dent” (she’s not) and ludi­crous­ly yelp­ing that Sarah Per­ry would be a tool of “Seat­tle social­ists,” includ­ing King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Gir­may Zahi­lay, the coun­ty’s only Black councilmember.

The lat­ter Lam­bert mail­er shows the Pho­to­shopped head of Zahi­lay at the top, with Per­ry depict­ed as a mar­i­onette attached to strings on the bottom.

Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders, Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris, and Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Kshama Sawant are depict­ed along­side Zahilay.

One side of a racist mail­er sent out by Kathy Lam­bert’s cam­paign. Lam­bert has refused to apol­o­gize for the mail­er. Click to enlarge.

Lam­bert’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues are nat­u­ral­ly furi­ous about the racist mail­er, and they joint­ly put out a state­ment today denounc­ing it.

“Put sim­ply, this is a racist piece of polit­i­cal mail. It has no place in any pub­lic or pri­vate dis­course here in King Coun­ty,” the state­ment said.

“Plan­ning, autho­riz­ing and mail­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion like this betrays igno­rance at best, deep seat­ed racism at worst,” it con­tin­ued. “Regard­less, it demon­strates dis­re­spect for the fun­da­men­tal duty that the res­i­dents of King Coun­ty give to all of their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives — the duty to respect and serve every­one who resides in King Coun­ty, regard­less of race or ethnicity.”

“We call upon Coun­cilmem­ber Lam­bert to apol­o­gize to our col­league here on the Coun­cil, to her polit­i­cal oppo­nent, and to the res­i­dents of King Coun­ty for sub­ject­ing every­one, espe­cial­ly our friends, fam­i­lies and con­stituents of col­or, to this hurt­ful and painful communication.”

The state­ment was signed by Coun­cil Chair Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci (6th Dis­trict) and Coun­cilmem­bers Rod Dem­bows­ki (1st Dis­trict), Jeanne Kohl-Welles (4th Dis­trict), Vice Chair Joe McDer­mott (6th Dis­trict), Dave Upthe­grove (5th Dis­trict), and Gir­may Zahi­lay (2nd Dis­trict). King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine issued his own, sep­a­rate con­dem­na­tion of the mail­er along­side the Coun­cil majority’s.

This, of course, is not the first time that Kathy Lam­bert has made racist com­ments or offen­sive remarks, so this mail­er is sad­ly con­sis­tent with who she is and how she behaves. As the great Amer­i­can poet and civ­il rights activist Maya Angelou once said: “When some­one shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Lam­bert has pre­vi­ous­ly shown us who she is. Now she’s show­ing us again.

Lam­bert and her con­sul­tants know — because they’ve done polling — that the 3rd Coun­ty Coun­cil Dis­trict is no longer friend­ly turf for Repub­li­cans. It’s full of Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing vot­ers who vot­ed for Democ­rats, from Pres­i­dent Biden to Gov­er­nor Inslee, in fed­er­al and state elec­tions last year.

If the only sup­port that Lam­bert gets is from Repub­li­cans and a few inde­pen­dents, she will lose. So she’s hop­ing to split up the uni­verse of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers and scare at least some per­cent­age of that part of the elec­torate into vot­ing for her using her col­league Coun­cilmem­ber Zahi­lay as a bogeyman.

Zahi­lay told The Seat­tle Times he ini­tial­ly assumed the mail­er was the work of an inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture, or IE, as it has all the char­ac­ter­is­tics of an IE mailer.

Then he found out it was cre­at­ed by Lam­bert’s campaign.

“Paint­ing the Black elect­ed offi­cial with a for­eign-sound­ing name as an ene­my to sub­ur­ban and rur­al val­ues is noth­ing new,” Zahi­lay wrote on Twit­ter. “In my two years on the Coun­cil the num­ber of racist and xeno­pho­bic mes­sages, and even threats, I get week­ly has been alarm­ing. It’s sad that my own col­league would fuel these attacks for cheap polit­i­cal points in a race that I’m not even in.”

Lam­bert’s cam­paign sig­naled that it was going to go nasty sev­er­al weeks ago.

Not long after the Top Two elec­tion had been cer­ti­fied, NPI obtained a copy of an online poll believed to be Lam­bert’s which con­tained a num­ber of loaded ques­tions test­ing attacks against Sarah Per­ry. One of those attacks was:

Now, please read these state­ments about Sarah Perry.

After each one, please indi­cate whether that state­ment makes you more like­ly or less like­ly to vote for her.

STATEMENT:
Sarah Per­ry is sup­port­ed by Seat­tle Social­ist leader Gir­may Zahi­lay who wants to defund the police. Gir­may and Sarah share an extreme agen­da that will take cops off the streets and release crim­i­nals into our neighborhoods.

  • Much less like­ly to vote for her
  • Some­what less likely
  • More like­ly to vote for her
  • No dif­fer­ence or unsure

We don’t know what the respons­es were to this par­tic­u­lar state­ment, but it’s obvi­ous­ly one of the attacks that Lam­bert’s cam­paign has decid­ed to use.

Lam­bert has a large war chest she’s pour­ing into these mailers.

A lot of the mon­ey is left over from past cam­paigns in which she did not have a strong oppo­nent. This year, her oppo­nent is Per­ry, who has a first-rate work eth­ic and a proven record of grass­roots orga­niz­ing for Demo­c­ra­t­ic candidates.

(For the record, I am a friend of Sarah Per­ry’s and have donat­ed to her cam­paign for the Coun­cil in my indi­vid­ual capac­i­ty as a Demo­c­ra­t­ic activist. NPI does­n’t endorse can­di­dates or engage in elec­tion­eer­ing for or against any candidate.)

Per­ry and anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date joint­ly gar­nered almost six­ty per­cent of the vote in the August Top Two elec­tion, while Lam­bert only pulled in 40%.

Per­ry also improved her posi­tion in the late bal­lots and cap­tured Lam­bert’s north Red­mond precinct, alarm­ing Lam­bert and her camp even more.

Know­ing Kathy Lam­bert and hav­ing spo­ken with her many times, I believe she is capa­ble of think­ing com­pas­sion­ate­ly and rea­son­ing using pro­gres­sive val­ues, and she has on occa­sion cast good votes on the Council.

But sad­ly, under­neath her veneer of rea­son­able­ness and sweet­ness are some very dark, unwel­com­ing, racist, and misog­y­nist beliefs.

Lam­bert could have cho­sen to leave the Repub­li­can Par­ty when it became a Trump-wor­ship­ing cult and reject­ed the pol­i­tics of Don­ald Trump.

She did­n’t. She has remained a staunch Republican.

She’s only call­ing her­self an “inde­pen­dent” because she knows she will not be reelect­ed if she cam­paigns as the per­son and politi­cian that she tru­ly is.

Des­per­ate gam­bits by Repub­li­cans in East­side races are noth­ing new.

We saw them four years ago in the State Sen­ate race that pit­ted Demo­c­ra­t­ic hope­ful Man­ka Dhin­gra (a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber) against Repub­li­can Jiny­oung Lee Englund. A flood of Repub­li­can-sent mail and a bar­rage of tele­vi­sion ads tried to char­ac­ter­ize Dhin­gra as a social­ist.

(Lam­bert went all in for Jiny­oung Lee Englund in that race, host­ing a fundrais­er for her and accom­pa­ny­ing her to can­di­date forums.)

The nasty attack ads did not work. Dhin­gra won hand­i­ly and has been in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate ever since. The 45th is no longer con­sid­ered a swing dis­trict, although it’s about to be redrawn along with the state’s oth­er districts.

If the same pat­tern holds this year, Lam­bert will lose and will leave the Coun­cil in dis­grace, hav­ing alien­at­ed her Coun­cil col­leagues and unnec­es­sar­i­ly caused pain and divi­sion in the com­mu­ni­ty that she claims to love so much.

Andrew Villeneuve

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