Gonzalez withdraws attack ad condemned as racist

SEATTLE — Mayoral Candidate Lorena Gonzalez is now backing away from a campaign attack ad Survivor that her opponent says is racist.

In a written statement released early this evening, the campaign said that commercial will not run during the last week of the campaign.

In a video message to supporters Gonzalez said, “My campaign produced an ad with a white survivor of sexual assault who was willing to tell her story as someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for and lifting up the needs and voices of people of color. I am sorry we did not work harder to center the voice of a sexual assault survivor from our community of color, who was also willing to tell their story…”

The controversial Gonzalez commercial features a white woman sexual assault survivor. It refers to then city councilmember Bruce Harrell’s reticence, in 2017, to call for the resignation of then Mayor Ed Murray as evidence mounted of Murray’s sexual abuse of children.

When KIRO 7 asked Harrell in July 2017 why he didn’t ask Murray to voluntarily step down as Mayor, Harrell responded, “That’s a good question. Because I’m not asking him to step down, I don’t have to justify that to anyone. "

On Saturday, Harrell’s campaign manager held a news conference to call the ad “blatantly racist”

Seattle University Professor Kimberly Harden is unaffiliated with either campaign. She studies and writes about the intersection of race and gender. Asked with image the campaign was trying to evoke by featuring a white woman in the commercial, she responded, “The whole stereotype that no black men are violent. You know, Bruce Harrell is black and Japanese. And so she’s playing up to that stereotype of oh, he’s a violent man, or he condoned violence.

The Lorena Gonzalez campaign stood by the ad most of the day. Saying in a statement that Harrell’s response “is another example of him denying the facts and discrediting a victim.”

Asked if any discussion of Harrell’s actions would lead to a charge of racism, Harden responded, “I’m all about conversations and honest dialogue, but creating that ad was just completely inappropriate in my opinion.”

Harrell tweeted a response shortly after the González campaign withdrew the ad he had condemned: “Thank you to the more than 900 community members who spoke out against this false and vile attack. Your voices made the difference – racism has no place in our city’s politics. The truth is that this ad never should have run in the first place. Full stop.”