Legislator’s remarks on race, food cause stir
It didn’t take long for a prediction from the conservative blogosphere to come true.
Not long after the right-leaning website Colorado Peak Politics warned people that Democrats would try to capitalize on what Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said last week, they did, but it wasn’t something Republicans haven’t done themselves.
Marble, speaking at a meeting of the Legislature’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force, shocked people when she offered her thoughts on blacks and Hispanics:
“When you look at life expectancy ... there are problems in the black race,” Marble told the 10-member panel she sits on. “Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that is prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it.
“Although, I gotta say I’ve never had better barbecue, better chicken and ate better in my life when you go down South.”
The shudders that went through the room last Wednesday when she uttered those words have since reverberated statewide.
Even conservative websites such as Peak Politics denounced Marble’s comments as “moronic,” saying the freshman senator “did expose a stunning ignorance and small mindedness.”
Ian Silverii, executive director of the House Majority Project, a group dedicated to ensuring that Democrats retain control of the Colorado House, wasted little time calling out Marble and the rest of the Republican Party to boot.
“The GOP leadership is way out of touch with the rest of mainstream Colorado,” Silverii said in an email blast asking for campaign donations. “This patronizing and bigoted monologue wasn’t merely a gaffe. This is representative of the way the extremists in the Colorado GOP leadership actually think about how to address public policy problems in Colorado.”
Marble, who isn’t in the GOP leadership, said she didn’t mean to disparage anyone.
“I am saddened they were taken in that regard,” she said. “I take my responsibility seriously and I hope our work on this committee will offer real solutions to the health and financial challenges of our vulnerable populations.”
Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, one of a handful of blacks in the Legislature, lashed out at Marble, saying her words aren’t something she would tolerate.
“I will not engage in a dialogue where I’m in the company where you are using stereotype references about African-Americans and chicken,” she said. “I would ask that you suspend your perceptions and your judgment about African-Americans. What we’re trying to do is come up with meaningful solutions, and it’s not about chicken.”
Although the conservative blogs, too, denounced Marble’s words, they also reminded readers that liberal lawmakers have made gaffes of their own in recent months.
Earlier this year, Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Denver, and Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Wheat Ridge, got into hot water among Republicans over their own words.
During debate over a bill to ban concealed weapons on college campuses, Hudak told a rape victim testifying against the measure, which later died, that she would not have been protected if she had been armed.
During debate on the same gun measure, Salazar suggested that women would be better off with whistles than guns.
Both were highly demonized by the right, which, like Silverii against Republicans, used the comments to demonize all Democrats in general.
Even Peak Politics, the same group that warned that “partisans” would use Marble’s words to gain traction with voters, called Hudak and Salazar’s comments “part of the Democrats’ playbook.”