The two black candidates in the lieutenant governor’s race are warring over the use of a racial epithet in a commercial that has run in the New Orleans area and is expected to go statewide.
Republican state Sen. Elbert Guillory said he’s using the “N-word” in a television spot in an attempt to get the attention of black voters who routinely vote for Democrats. The end game, he said, is to pull votes off Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, the Democrat in the race, and point out that the black community has not fared well sticking with Democrats.
“That line has stirred some controversy,” Guillory, of Opelousas, said Monday. He said he’s not backing away from its use. “This is education.”
Holden took Guillory to task for using the “divisive” word in an attempt to “justify a party.”
“He should be trying to educate people about coming together more instead of using language that puts a dividing line between us,” Holden said.
The campaign ad features an alleged quotation that Guillory attributed to Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson after he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the ad, Guillory says that Johnson said he “gave ‘them’ a little something to keep the niggers voting for Democrats for the next 200 years.”
Guillory said the plan has worked well for Democrats but not the black community, which has high unemployment, mortality, dropout, single-mother and imprisonment rates. “They have not served us well,” he said.
Guillory said he was quoting from “an historic moment in history.” He said those who complain are holding him to a double standard, saying President Obama used the word several weeks ago on national TV.
Political analysts say Holden will make it to a runoff with one of two well-funded Republican candidates in the race — former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and current Jefferson Parish President John Young.
Guillory has been struggling with fundraising.
“It’s a sad commentary in politics today that a person who is black would even venture out to use the N-word when there are other people out there trying to bring the races together as one,” Holden said. “Here’s one of our own trying to justify a party and using what was allegedly said by Lyndon Johnson. He’s hiding behind that to call black people niggers.”
Guillory switched from Democrat to Republican in 2013. In a video explaining his decision to change parties, Guillory calls Democrats “the party of Jim Crow” and Republicans “the party of freedom and progress.”
Louisianians for Better Government paid for the recent ad buy, Guillory said.
“We did the commercial and we were looking for a sponsor for it. They apparently stepped up to the plate,” he said.
He said he did not know who was behind the group.
Louisianians for Better Government does not show up on the state ethics agency’s website as a registered political action committee.
Candidate sign-up for the lieutenant governor’s race is Sept. 8-10. The primary election is Oct. 24 and the runoff Nov. 21.