Norwood Defends Personal Voting Record after Democratic Attack Mailer
(APN) ATLANTA — “I’m purple,” City Councilwoman Mary Norwood says of her political allegiance after a series of attacks from rival campaigns and after a mailer sent out from the Democratic Party of Georgia said Norwood had an “elephant in the room.”
Both the campaigns of Lisa Borders and Kasim Reed have been trying to paint Norwood as Republican for several weeks now.
Reed’s campaign strategy for some time had been to paint both Norwood and Borders as Republicans, first by emphasizing Borders’s ties to Tom Bell, formerly of Cousins Properties. Atlanta Progressive News published the only journalistic analysis of that relationship a few weeks ago.
Several of APN’s readers, Reed supporters in particular, also have been mimicking the rumors that Norwood was a Republican and asked APN to investigate.
APN has discussed the issue several times with the Norwood campaign–including at least three conversations with Norwood and at least two with her campaign manager–over the last several weeks.
Then, late last week, it surfaced that the Democratic Party of Georgia had sent out a mailer targeting Black communities in Atlanta calling Norwood a Republican.
However, a copy of her voting record obtained by Atlanta Progressive News from one of her rival campaigns shows that, more often than not, Norwood has picked up Democratic ballots in Primary, Primary Runoff, and Presidential Primary races since 1998, when the data begins.
In 2008, Norwood voted in the Democratic Presidential Primary. She also voted in the General Election and the General Run-off, although for privacy reasons records do not show the parties of the candidates she voted for in those races.
Norwood says in the 2008 General Election she voted for US Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for President. That year there were also US House and legislature races on the ballot, in addition to a US Senate race. She apparently did not vote in the regular [non-Presidential] Primary.
In 2006, Norwood voted in the Democratic Primary and the Democratic Primany Run-off; this race included statewide candidates and well as US House and state legislature candidates.
In 2004, Norwood voted in the Republican Primary and the Republican Primary Run-off; this race included US House and legislature seats.
According to Norwood’s campaign manager Roman Levit, Norwood picked up a Republican ballot because in her State House district there was a competitive race between three or four Republicans and there was no Democrat in the race [the seat that State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R) holds], so she voted for the least radical candidate.
While there are other races that would have normally weighed in her decision about which Primary to participate in, “US House, [US Rep.] John Lewis (D-GA) was unopposed that year. There was definitely no Democrat running,” Levit said.
“[State Sen.] Horacena Tate was the State Senator. She was unopposed in the Primary and the General. It was really about local races,” Levit said.
Also in 2004, Norwood voted in the Democratic Presidential Primary. She says in the General Election she voted for US Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for President.
In 2002, Norwood voted in the Democratic Primary as well as in the General. This year there were statewide, US House, and legisature races on the ballot, in addition to a US Senate race.
She voted in the General and the Republican Primary in 2000. She apparently did not vote in the Presidential Primary. She says she supported Vice President Al Gore in the General for President.
She also voted in the General and the Republican Primary in 1998.
Levit said that when Norwood picked up a Republican ballot, “her whole point was to try to elect the most moderate candidate in that particular election.”
THE DPG MAILER
According to copies posted on the Internet, one mailer shows an elephant on one said and says, “Mary Norwood’s Republican record – It’s the elephant in the room she’s trying to hide.”
On the other side, the mailer goes on to make several claims that are, at best, misleading.
“Bankrolled by John McCain’s money men – Norwood’s campaign is financed by the same Republican money men who funded John McCain’s hate-filled campaign against Barack Obama, and who have given to George Bush, the Republican National Committee, Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Republican Party,” the mailer says on the other side.
“I’m sure it’s referring to people on the [Norwood campaign financial disclosure] report who’ve given money to Republicans too. Everyone’s got people on their disclosure who’ve given money to Republicans,” Levit said.
“Everyone has a ton of money from Republicans on their disclsoures because Republicans have a lot of money to give,” Levit noted.
When asked if, as implied by the mailer, there is a concerted effort by a group of Republicans, similar to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, supporting Norwood, “there is certainly not,” Levit said.
Levit said the mailer is “misleading in the way it makes Mary look- the way it presents this [receiving donations from Republicans] as being completely unique,” Levit said.
“It’s taken somebody whose taken some pretty progressive positions and tried to exclude her from the Democratic Party instead of bringing her in, which is what President Obama and President Clinton have tried to do,” Levit said.
“Voted for Republicans 70% of the time – Her television ads try to hide the real facts, but since 1992 Norwood has voted for Republican candidates 70% of the time. She was even a delegate to the Republican convention. We can’t trust her as Mayor,” the mailer says.
Levit said that claim was “clearly false. It claims it represents votes for candidates, when it actually represents the Primary ballot. That’s based on a primary ballot history going back to 1992. During most of the 90’s she was pulling most of the Republican primary ballot,” Levit said.
The second mailer shows a photograph of Mary Norwood juxtaposed to Sarah Palin, George Bush, and Rush Limbaugh on one side, with a picture of a Black woman with an apparent headache, rubbing her forehead, on the other side.
They both also say: “Paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia. Vote for Kasim Reed. Vote for Lisa Borders. Vote for Reuben McDaniel.”
Reuben McDaniel is a candidate for one of the Atlanta School Board seats and is running unopposed.
The inclusion of McDaniel seems arbitrary, although a source familiar with the matter says, according to law, the mailer could not endorse just one candidate or even in one race: that’s why they endorsed Reed, Borders, and McDaniel.
“Now if the DPG was really in the business of electing Democrats and felt the strong desire to anoint themselves protectors of Democrats on the Atlanta School Board, then why didn’t they add Cecily Harsch-Kinnane’s name to their mailer?” Bernita Smith, a blogger at Blog for Democracy, wrote.
“Cecily is an incumbent and a strong Democrat (according to the DPG’s Votebuilder system) and is in a race against Charlie Stadtlander – a guy who recently headed the Log Cabin Republicans in Missouri and in Georgia,” Smith said.
SOME DEMOCRATS CRITICIZE MAILER
Several members and activists with the DPG have criticized the mailer.
Bernita Smith noted that, in fact, Norwood is listed as Leans Democrat in the DPG’s own database, based on her personal voting record.
“The DPG wants Atlanta Democrats to believe that we can’t fare well under Mary Norwood’s leadership because Norwood isn’t a strong enough Democrat,” Smith wrote.
“When you examine the Votebuilder system, the system that the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic National Committee uses to identify likely Democratic voters, it lists Mary Norwood as a “Leaning Democrat”. The DNC uses a proprietary algorithm to allot “partisan” points to every registered voter. According to the Votebuilder system, Mary Norwood has a total of 150 points – Democratic points = 100 (66.7%) and Republican points = 50 (33.3%). Hmmm, not a strong enough Democrat or not a strong enough Republican?” Smith wrote.
“The DPG has seen the polling numbers for the last nine months that all of their defined “strong Democrats” were lagging behind Norwood. This has not been a secret. But, the DPG waits until the ninth inning to turn on their bat light and broadcast a message in the clouds to Atlanta Democrats. Puh-leaze and I’m supposed to be all gung-ho for this last ditch effort,” Smith wrote.
“Democrats want everyone to believe that their “tent is always open”, but the DPG is closing down their flaps because Norwood is not overtly saying she is a Democrat in this nonpartisan race. Over the past election cycles, I believe a lot of our statewide nominated Democratic candidates have run on the same platform as Mary Norwood – “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”. She supports gay rights and abortion rights. So what part of Norwood’s platform doesn’t square right with the Party?” Smith wrote.
“I need for the DPG to stay focused and develop a well precision plan to win the Governor’s mansion in 2010. Let’s try not to piss off the White Democrats, who live in and outside of Atlanta,” Smith added.
APN left a voicemail days ago with Matt Weyandt, DPG Executive Director, as well as a voicemail on the DPG’s “press line” voicemail, but did not receive a response. They apparently do not have a dedicated spokesperson since Martin Matheny is no longer on staff.
DPG Chairwoman Jane Kidd–who some have tried to draft for the 2010 US Senate race but who says she won’t run–did not return an email seeking comment.
NORWOOD ADDRESSES ATTENDENCE AT REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
Norwood attended a Georgia Republican Convention in 1999. She also attended a Florida Democrat Convention within the same year.
At both parties’ conventions she was selling a robo-call service she founded after getting out of running a radio company.
“I was setting up a system to call people out without having to pay a fee every time,” Norwood said.
The system was called OneCall Systems. Since going on the Internet, it is now known as Norwood Communications.
She said some friends of hers, including a poll-worker Jodi Wenz, encouraged her to be a delegate. “She said come to the Republican Party meeting on Saturday. I didn’t have anything else to do. They didn’t have enough people to be a delegate. I said, sure, that’s interesting.”
“They said you’re going down there anyway. Why not be a delegate?” Norwood said.
Norwood paid a $415 contribution under the name OneCall Web in order to attend as a delegate, according to a rival campaign.
She said she was disgusted with the Republican Convention and decided never to return. “There seemed to be two agendas. Evidentally in all these party politics, there’s stuff that goes on on the floor and there’s stuff that goes on in the back room,” Norwood said.
“Just because you go on a date with someone doesn’t mean you’re gonna marry them,” Norwood said, making an analogy. “Just because you did cocaine once doesn’t make you an addict.”
“I bring change, hope, and a new direction for this city, period. Everyone knows I’m not part of any political machine.”
When asked whether progressives will have access to a Norwood Administration, she asked, “Have you [APN] had access to me?” The answer would be yes.
“Everybody’s gonna have access to me because I don’t have any special interests blocking people out,” Norwood said.
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