Was the race card played in Edison?
Thursday’s Home News had some pretty damning comments about the election for mayor of Edison:
Race is no longer an unspoken topic in township politics.
William Stephens, who lost his bid for the mayor’s seat to Korean American Jun Choi, said residents voting along ethnic lines determined Tuesday’s election.
“The township was pushed further apart,” Stephens said. “He played the Asian card.”
…But the race issue has been around Choi since the Democratic primary campaign, where he launched his meteoric rise and upset three-term Mayor George Spadoro.
In April, Craig Carton and Ray Rossi of New Jersey 101.5 FM’s “The Jersey Guys” propelled Choi’s name to newspapers across the state and into the Philadelphia and New York City media markets. During the show, Carton ridiculed Asian-Americans.
“No specific minority group or foreign group should ever dictate the outcome of an American election. I don’t care if the Chinese population in Edison has quadrupled in the last year, Chinese should never dictate the outcome of an American election, Americans should,” said Carton, according to a transcript of the show.
The radio-show hosts and the station apologized, but because of that broadcast a New York City-based Asian voting-rights group called on the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor the primary polls.
The Justice Department outlined its observations in a letter sent to the Middlesex County Board of Elections. Some of the findings were: poll workers telling federal observers voters should learn English in order to vote; and a poll worker stating when a Gujarati or Hindi-speaking voter appeared she would “send them to the nearest gas station.”
These observations led to federal monitors overseeing polls during Tuesday’s vote.
In the primary, Spadoro’s campaign also sent out three mailings featuring Choi’s face with a tight focus from his cheekbones to his forehead.
At the time, Choi had no comment, and Spadoro’s campaign said the mailers were in no way meant to be racist.