When Maplewood city council candidate Jim Llanas told the Minnesota Independent this summer, “Brace yourself. It’s just going to get ugly,” he wasn’t far off the mark. An anonymous flier being distributed about Llanas, who would be both the first openly gay and the first Hispanic city council member in the city’s history, is being described as racist and homophobic by a progressive group and a city council member.
“Llanas, a non-native of Maplewood, apparently spends much of his time in Minneapolis supporting gay politicians,” the flier reads. “How does this qualify him to run for Maplewood city council?”
It then says that Llanas has gone by several names, including his middle name “Moreno,” and that he has been involved in the LGBT community.
The fliers have been distributed in Maplewood neighborhoods, and in numerous instances they’ve been taped on doors along with an attached campaign brochure – in many cases afixed with the same blue tape – promoting conservative write-in council candidates Dave Hafner and Ken Smart, as well as mayoral candidate DelRay Rokke.
Current city council member John Nephew first spotted the fliers and posted them on his blog. “For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think those three were born in Maplewood either, but you know that’s not really what the flyer is getting at with the term ‘non-native.'”
There’s no proof that any of those candidates were responsible for the flier, and Llanas points to comments on a blog where Smart said he doesn’t have any knowledge of the flier.
The flier also attacks Llanas’ work in human rights. “Llanas wants to establish a Human Rights commission on the city council. The question is which humans? When was the last time a human rights commission did anything for you???”
Llanas condemned the flier on his campaign website:
Using a strategy right from the Karl Rove playbook, supporters of my opponents are using fear and hate to get votes. They blanket neighborhoods in the dark of night, afraid to show their faces. These slimey tactics make incorrect assumptions about Maplewood residents. They assume Maplewood residents are uninformed, comfortable with people who divide our community and tolerant of bigots. The fact is residents are deeply engaged with the affairs of our city and are fed up with this type of political nonsense!
Progressive Majority, a “political action committee committed to progressive candidates and issues,” also condemned the fliers and rushed to support Llanas in an email on Wednesday.
Jim has been called “a non-native of Maplewood” and been attacked for “supporting gay politicians.” The residents of Maplewood are facing a new low in the politics of bigotry and hatred …
The attacks, meant only to stoke racism and homophobia among voters, remind us of the Jim Crow days in the American South. While we are confident that the residents of Maplewood will reject the politics of bigotry, we also know that Jim needs help to get his message out.
Click here for a PDF version of the flier.