It's getting downright dirty in the race for a District 8 seat on the Phoenix City Council.
In the latest round of mud-slinging, one of the candidates is accused of going to Scottsdale for dinner, stopping at random Starbucks for caffeinated beverages, and even going to happy hour with "new friends."
These, um, shocking allegations were leveled at an unnamed District 8 candidate by Cloves Campbell, Jr. in an editorial published in his newspaper, the Arizona Informant.
Oh, and he also alleges the candidate's a "house Negro." Which really is shocking.
Campbell calls the candidate this apparently for immersing himself in a "job with nothing but white folks." And, like the "house Negro" of old, he "enjoys a clean 'white' life" and with his burgeoning confidence, he has the gall to believe that someone like him should represent people people in District 8."
Since Campbell supports Pastor Warren Stewart for City Council, it's clear that he believes that this Scottdale-eating-Starbucks-drinking candidate who's infiltrated the District 8 race is Lawrence Robinson.
We called Stewart -- who made a point of saying his campaign would be a mud-free zone -- to see what he thought about Campbell's labeling of his opponent with the offensive label.
We left messages for him at his church, on his cell phone, and at his home. He's yet to return our calls.
Robinson says only that he wants to "rise above the divisive politics of the past," remain focused on the "issues at stake for our community" and hopes to have a substantive debate with the other candidates.
Stewart, Robinson, and Carolyn T. Lowery, three black candidates, are competing for a seat in a mostly Latino district that has been an African-American stronghold for decades. Kate Widland Gallego, a white woman married to a Latino lawmaker, also is a serious contender for the seat.
"If they ever were on, the gloves are clearly off now," says the Reverend Jarrett Maupin, a civil rights leader who's been fielding calls from media about whether Campbell's assessment is fair. "All's fair in love and war. But, the candidates will be weighed in the balance by voters, and those found wanting will not survive the primary election."
It's unclear how Robinson's, um, ties to Scottsdale and Starbucks could affect his candidacy. And the stuff about being a "house Negro" is as ludicrous as it is shocking.
Robinson grew up in South Phoenix.
"This Negro has lost his mind!" Campbell wrote in his editorial. "As a matter of fact this Negro decides that he should represent Black folks as an elected official!"
It wasn't that long ago that Campbell was heaping praise on Robinson, who has a law degree, after he won a seat on the Roosevelt School Board.
If just eating in Scottsdale is enough to turn a candidate into a traitor who is less connected to his South Phoenix community, imagine if Campbell knew that one of the District 8 candidates actually hired a campaign consultant who lives in Scottsdale?!
That would be Pastor Stewart.
It's unclear whether Stewart or any of the other D8 candidates ever has eaten at a Scottsdale restaurant or purchased coffee at a Starbucks, but campaign-finance records show that Stewart has taken a chunk of cash from well-to-do Scottsdale residents, including the CEO of John C. Lincoln Hospital.
What would that make him in Campbell's assessment?
Campbell also claims the present-day Uncle Tom "tells his friends how connected he is with the Black Community...He goes to the church "down there," gets a haircut "down there," and even eats at Mrs. Whites Golden Rule Café once every quarter."
Robinson, who's openly gay, lives about five miles from Stewart's gated community, which is nestled at the base of South Mountain.
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Campbell explains the pejorative expression -- "house Negro" -- as someone who, in the days of slavery, lived "in the big house with 'masta'. He eats the same food, wears clean clothes, and for the most part, enjoys a clean 'white' life. He is that trusted slave; the one who is able to talk to the other slaves as a 'superior negro.'"
And yet Campbell's newspaper (and the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce) partnered with the Polo Championship in (ready for this?) none other than Scottsdale.
As the Good Book says: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged." (Matthew 7)