Wednesday, October 26, 2011

About that Butler-Obama billboard

One glance at the billboard popping up around Chester and you would get the impression that President Barack Obama is backing Chester Mayor Wendell Butler in his re-election big.

Uh, not exactly.

You see, there’s a slight problem with that. Last time we looked, the president was a Democrat. Butler is a Republican. He’s also an incumbent, part of the long-entrenched GOP machine that has dominated the city for decades.

The problem for Butler and Chester Republicans is that the city’s demographics are working against them. Registration now tilts toward the Democratic side. In the last city council election, Democrats captured two seats, something unheard of just a few years ago.

Butler is facing a strong challenge from John Linder.

So it’s not surprising that he’s looking for every angle for support, including the White House.

What’s not nearly as clear from the billboard is whether Obama is actually supporting Butler.

The message reads: “The Obama team picks Chester and Mayor Butler, and on Nov. 8th, so should you!”

That’s a reference to the city’s inclusion in a federal program called Strong Cities, Strong Communities. It is one of only six distressed cities in the country to snag that honor.

But to spin that into a billboard that gives the impression that Obama is supporting Butler is a bit of a reach.

First to complain about it was state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159. He railed about the billboards at a recent Democratic rally in the city. You can read that story here.

The item is getting some national attention due to Ben Smith's blog on the Politico website.

Now state Democrats are getting involved. They have sent a letter to the Butler campaign blasting the message and requesting they be taken down. Read the full story here.

Columnist Gil Spencer makes it pretty clear what he thinks of the ploy.

The Butler campaign has responded that “at no time did the campaign indicate President Obama was endorsing any candidate for any office in the upcoming election.”

Really? You look at the billboard and then tell me what you think.

Could have fooled me.


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