An image on an Arizona Democratic Party mailer has shifted the focus this week away from national issues and put the spotlight on race in the competitive contest between former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker (R) and former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D).
At issue is a direct mail piece with a photo of Parker, an African-American, that appears to be darker than his natural skin tone. The Arizona Democratic Party sponsored the mailer, which can be seen at the bottom of this post. It was reported by local news outlets earlier this week.
“When you make me four, five shades darker and my teeth 10 shades whiter and my eyes 10 shades whiter, I think they get the point I am black,” Parker told Roll Call. When asked if he thought the image resembled a minstrel, Parker said yes.
“The mailers are being used as a divisive factor in the campaign,” Parker said. ”It is unfortunate that the Democratic Party [that] goes around saying that they’re ecumenical and inclusive would use a photograph like that.”
According to state Democratic Party spokesman Frank Camacho, an original version of the photo was taken from Parker’s Facebook page. No Photoshopping was done beyond transferring a color photo to black and white, he said. He described the practice as “very common in political campaigns” and said the notion that the photo was further altered with a racial intent was “completely false.” Full story