Vivian Watts’ background materials.

After writing about Del. Vivian Watts’ possibly-racist mailer earlier today, I e-mailed her office. Watts’ defended herself in the AP thusly:

Watts said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the phrase is simply meant to highlight three decades of community service and that she has used similar wording in past campaigns against white opponents.

“It’s just saying that all politics is local, and it’s a reference to how long I’ve been active in the community,” she said.

If that’s so, then she ought to be able to provide documentation of those past references to referring to “us,” “we,” “our community,” etc. Right?

Well, to her credit, she did just that. Her campaign manager, Hope, scanned in a series of old mailers and e-mailed them to me. Here they are:


From 1983.


From 1999.


From 1999.


From 2001.

And, for reference, here is the mailer in question:

I have also a PDF of the mailer that shows both sides of the mailer, in high resolution.

After seeing the progression of her mailers over the years, I have to admit that I feel a little silly. The theme throughout all of them is one of community, one of us-ness, and one of “hey, you know me.” While the specific phrase used in this latest mailer is new, it’s wholly consistent with the theme of 22 years of reelection campaigns.

I’m torn on whether or not she should have stuck with the theme this time around. Is it racist for her to deliberately shy away from that “our community” theme with an opponent who is an immigrant? Or is it racist to go ahead and use it anyway? Is it OK to accuse an opponent of only having lived in the community for a brief period? What if that opponent didn’t move to the community from New York but, instead, Egypt? Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in too many “racial healing” workshops, but the gray areas here seem to be gray only when overanalyzed.

Del. Watts has been consistent in her message over the years. It is unfortunate that her opponent feels slighted by her message but, clearly, that message is not tailored to him. I think Del. Watts would be wise to apologize to her opponent, not because she’s done anything wrong, but because he’s clearly upset, and it would be a nice gesture. She owes him an explanation of her campaign history which, to be completely fair, he may not know because she’s been in office far longer than he’s lived in the district. But I don’t think that Del. Watts owes any kind of an apology to the public or to anybody else. There’s no fault to be assigned here.

12 thoughts on “Vivian Watts’ background materials.”

  1. I actually know Del. Watts personally, as she’s a family friend and lives right down the street from me. She’s a wonderful, stand-up woman who has served my district exceptionally well for years and years, and the whole state of Virginia via VDOT and CASA before that. I have the utmost confidence that her intentions were and remain pure.

  2. I do not know her at all, only what I have read about her in researching this 2005 election and all it’s candidates and incumbents. Looking at the history you present, this is clearly a case of the corrupt and racist party using any excuse what-so-ever to go after a hard working, community minded Delegate.

    It is high time that many, many voters demand an apology from Michael Meunier for bringing racism into a political race that had none of it until he opened his improperly self-righteous mouth.

  3. this is clearly a case of the corrupt and racist party

    Puh-lease.

    The challenger’s infusion of race into the campaign is regrettable, and (if I lived there) I wouldn’t vote for him because of it. But get a grip, sparky. Race-baiting of this sort is most often employed by Dems.

  4. Race-baiting of this sort is most often employed by Dems.

    Yeah, ’cause they’re the ones who are well-known for that whole “Southern Strategy” thing. Try again, “sparky.”

  5. “Is it OK to accuse an opponent of only having lived in the community for a brief period?”

    Hi Waldo. I can answer your question with your own previous statement. Tee hee. ;-)

    “I have another hobby-horse, though, and that’s the localness of candidates. I’m not a fan of candidates that just parachute into town and declare that they’re here to help.”

  6. I don’t think Delegate Watts has anything to apologize for.

    She’s been representing her neighbors in office for Decades. If her opponent can’t make a similar claim, that’s not Delegate Watts’ fault.

    Aren’t there some pressing issues of interest to this district that might be worthy of discussion?

    Move on…

  7. Give me a break. Everyone knows those “Dems” you claim are southern strategists are Republicans because they couldn’t countenance fair racial policies and Dems support of desegration. The Southern strategy is rooted in your (Repug) party, not ours. And lame-o Tricky Dick launched the tactic in the 60s. It’s been a divisive tactic by Republicans ever since. That party is just more clever. And it tries to assure we’ll never see their rotten mailings. And false claims don’t make it so. You can try to turn night into day and day into night. But we are not deceived.

  8. Obviously the work of those who Waldo has coined “resume pading monkey’s” hereafter referred to as RPM’s
    I can definately see where someone could get the wrong idea. Plain and simple, it’s a $hitty mail piece.
    On the other hand, these accusations from our side are what makes me angry about the tone of today’s politics.
    It’s a good campaign tactic, but “good campaign tactic” does not equal “GOOD and honorable.”

  9. I can definately see where someone could get the wrong idea. Plain and simple, it’s a $hitty mail piece.

    But it’s a big step forward. Those older pieces are really ugly. :)

  10. “I can definately see where someone could get the wrong idea. Plain and simple, it’s a $hitty mail piece.

    But it’s a big step forward. Those older pieces are really ugly. :)”

    If you think those are bad, you should see the yard signs…I’ll try and get a picture of one and post it on my site.

Comments are closed.