Published Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 | 3:01 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 | 5:04 p.m.
Democratic Sen. Steven Horsford is accusing his political foes of launching racially charged attacks against him in his congressional run against Republican Danny Tarkanian.
Horsford, the first African-American state senate majority leader, called on Tarkanian to condemn a blog post by conservative operative Chuck Muth that mocks a tweet Horsford sent about the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Steven Horsford continues to play the race card (he’s black) with this mindless, irrelevant re-tweet of a White House tweet on Saturday,” Muth wrote on his blog of Horsford’s tweet about the Emancipation Proclamation. “Sounds like somebody’s scared by last week’s poll showing him losing the urban vote to his white-bread Republican opponent, Danny Tarkanian.”
In his blog post, Muth also chides Horsford for using “two black kids” playing basketball in one of his television ads. Horsford has criticized Tarkanian for implying he can win the black vote because of his work with black youth through his non-profit basketball clinic.
The children in Horsford’s ad are his own.
“This shot was of me playing with my children in our backyard,” Horsford said in a written statement. “And to refer to my kids as just some ‘black kids playing basketball’ is extremely offensive. My children will be off limits in this campaign. I won’t accept my kids being exploited as pawns in a political game and these racially charged attacks must stop.”
Tarkanian’s spokesman Ron Futrell distanced the Republican candidate from Muth’s blog post.
“I would say that Danny does not see the commercial that way,” Futrell said. “(Horsford) needs to deal with Chuck Muth on that. In the past, Muth has attacked Danny pretty hard, so we know how that feels.”
Asked for a response, Muth did not back off of his original comments.
"First, for Steven Horsford to accuse me of race-baiting is a textbook example of the pot calling the kettle black," Muth said. "Secondly, I had no idea the two kids in the commercial were his sons. Thirdly, the two black kids are, in fact, two black kids, so my statement was accurate, not racist. Fourth, I can only point out the obvious; that it was Mr. Horsford himself who actually exploited his kids as pawns in a political game by featuring them in his campaign commercial in the first place."
As for an apology, Muth refused.
"Lastly, as to Mr. Horsford's demand that I apologize for my alleged "insensitive" comments, allow me to respond by quoting Brigadier Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne in the Battle of the Bulge: 'Nuts!'" Muth said.
It’s not the first time race has become an issue in the congressional race.
Last month, Tarkanian, under fire from the Horsford campaign, questioned whether he should “be like Steven Horsford… and pretend we’re black.”