Nevada Congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian made a historically clumsy attempt to play racial politics this week, when he claimed that he could attract black voters through his involvement with a basketball program — then “defended” himself by accusing his African-American opponent Steven Horsford of pretending to be black.
Tarkanian, a Republican, first got in trouble when told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he relates to the black voters in his district because of his basketball academy.
“My basketball academy, which is very close to the district, has a lot of players and families in that district that are in our academy now for 10 years,” Tarkanian said.
His comment upset black Democrats, who accused Tarkanian of promoting stereotypes.
“Danny Tarkanian’s use of patronizing stereotypes has no place in American politics today,” read a statement issued by the Democratic party. “Like all communities, Nevada’s African-American community will support candidates who focus on creating jobs, cracking down on the abuses of Wall Street and protecting Social Security and Medicare — not the kind of rhetoric of centuries past. Danny Tarkanian should immediately apologize for his offensive remark.”
In Tarkanian’s defense, his clumsy attempt to pander did appear to be genuine. The son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, Danny Tarkanian is well known for his basketball-related community service in the Las Vegas area.
His response to Democratic statement, however, is pretty much indefensible.