Karin Housley, the Republican candidate running for Al Franken’s former Minnesota Senate seat, has a troubling social media history.
HuffPost reports that, in a 2009 Facebook post, Housley compared Michelle Obama to a chimp while criticizing the First Lady’s posture in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
“Michelle is soooo far from cool. Don’t we expect our First Ladies to at least stand up straight?” Housley posted.
In the comment thread beneath the post Housley made the chimp comparison.“I do miss Nancy Reagan. Ronald even more. Speaking of Bedtime for Bonzo, I think even that chimp stood up straighter than Michelle,” she wrote, referencing a 1951 film starring Reagan.
“Uh-oh, someone is going to make a comment,” Housley added.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for the Housley campaign doubled down on the post emailing a statement that reads in part, “It’s not surprising the Huffington Post — basically an extension of the Democratic Party — would do Tina Smith’s dirty work for her. This is what the radical left does when they are losing — they attack Republicans so they don’t have to come up with solutions to the problems Minnesotans are facing.”
Sen. Smith, who was appointed to Franken's seat earlier this year, is Housley’s Democratic opponent for the senate seat and is currently leading in the polls.
This kind of “dog whistle” statement — strategically coded racist messages that don’t explicitly mention race — has become a hallmark of many of the political races this year.
In August, Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate in Florida’s gubernatorial race, warned voters not “to monkey this up” by voting for his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum. Gillum is Black.
In a statement, the DeSantis campaign denied that the comment was racially coded, saying, “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”
In an interview with Fox News, Gillum countered that DeSantis was employing Trumpian rhetorical politics. “In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls. They’re now using full bull horns,” said Gillum.
In a recent debate between the candidates, most viewers felt that Gillum had a far better showing than DeSantis.
In another incident, Republican John Faso, the incumbent facing off against Democrat Antonio Delgado for New York’s 19th Congressional district, ran an ad disparaging a rap album Delgado recorded in 2006. The ad juxtaposes clips from the Democrat’s current campaign in which Delgado says he is “fighting for what’s fair and just” with lyrics such as “gotcha sweatin’ this like ya having sex to a porno flick.”
Delgado has argued that in his socially conscious rap persona of AD the Voice, he was speaking to social issues including income inequality, gender equality, and climate change — all issues that remain core to his campaign.
“It was different contexts, different tactics, but same desires and same outcomes,” he told the New York Times.
If Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard law graduate, wins the race in the majority-white district, he would be the first person of color to do so.