As Dan Klepal at The Courier-Journal reported yesterday afternoon, six Republican colleagues of 18th District Councilman Jon Ackerson have chosen to toss him aside in this year’s election, instead endorsing one of his Republican challengers.
That’s shocking enough, but what’s even more shocking is the challenger they chose to endorse: Marilyn Parker.
Parker is known for being an outspoken Tea Party activist, launching an aborted campaign against John Yarmuth in 2009, and using the word “socialist” like most people use the word “the.” She describes herself as “a student of biblical history as well as Austrian economics.”
But right-wing ideological screeds bashing “socialists” and “Marxists” and “George Soros” over email and Facebook are one thing. It’s another thing to promote the extremely bizarre conspiracy theories about Barack Obama that she has over the past several years.
On her Facebook page, Parker has repeatedly expressed views that Barack Obama is a “secret muslim” set on intentionally destroying America from within. She also has promoted articles touting that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and last January promoted an article spinning together many conspiracy theories about the Obama administration orchestrating the Arizona massacre last year by programming the killer.
Here’s a typical Facebook rant:
“How are you not a muslim when both your father and your step father was (sic). It amazes me when Democrats who don’t engage or try to learn or understand anything scoff at the fact that Obama is a sympathetic muslim and who attended a black liberation theology church Holy Trinity and was indoctrinated in Carl (sic) Marx.”
As Klepal noted, every Republican on the Metro Council has endorsed Parker except for Stuart Benson and James Peden.
LEO Weekly contacted every Republican council person to see why they endorsed Parker, or why not. (Kelly Downard, Kevin Kramer, Glen Stuckel, Stuart Benson, and Jon Ackerson himself have not responded).
Robin Engel told LEO that his decision had to do with the performance of Ackerson over the past few years, as he strays too often toward the Democrats.
“We’re all about transparency, and that’s really what’s the central focus of our efforts down here right now,” Engel says. “And Jon basically voted against an ethics ordinance early on. And he voted to stop discussion on union contracts and the amount of those particular contracts. So he’s voted with Democrats time and time again.”
Fleming, on the other hand, said his decision had to do with his admiration for Parker.
“I think she brings a lot of value and experience to the council, and I think her focus is really on the accountability and transparency,” Fleming says. “She brings a lot of passion, a strong hard work ethic to the Council, making sure we abide by the accountability and transparency issues.”
Peden refrained from endorsing Parker right away because there hasn’t been enough time to properly vet and hear out the candidates running.
“I just don’t know that this was a full-fledged well thought out issue,” Peden says. “If I thought it was a two-person race, that might be a little different, but this is a three-person race. And it’s one thing to not necessarily endorse Jon. It’s another thing to pick one of those folks over the other person, not knowing her totally. She may be the better candidate, and I thought that was a little short-sighted to not necessarily give everybody a fair shake.
“Granted, in a primary you don’t have the opportunity to let the process vet everybody on its own and then endorse someone in the fall. You don’t have that chance.”
And speaking of “vetting,” LEO asked the councilmen if they had heard of Parker’s birther/muslim-fear/conspiracy promotion on Facebook, and what they think of it.
“I wasn’t aware of that, but I don’t think it’s relevant to a local council race,” says Jerry Miller.
Robin Engel gave a flat no comment.
Fleming expanded more, saying such views of Parker are “national issues,” which are not relevant to a local race.
“I’m really focused on — and I think she’s focused on — trying to improve our lives on a local level,” Fleming says. “On the national level, you know, that’s … we all have our opinions on a national level, pros and cons. But I just want to focus on, and I think she just wants to focus on local issues, and that’s what we’re going to keep our eye on.
“So as far as her opinions, that’s a national issue, and I think people don’t really look at this as a partisan issue. We just want to do the best we can providing services on a local level.”
Peden says that he was aware of much of her writing over the last few years.
“There is no doubt that much of her writing over the last few years has followed a lot of the Tea Party, which I don’t necessarily object to. She actually is probably more along the lines of a libertarian, which from my perspective fiscally I probably agree with her a lot. As far as the birther issue — I wasn’t aware of the Arizona massacre issue until you just brought it up — but I guess I would file that under ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Some people are just more vocal about it than others.”
He also stated that the six Republicans who endorsed her don’t necessarily agree with her on the out-there conspiracy views of Parker.
What are the morals of this story?
First, candidate vetting is kind of important.
Second, this 18th District council race is going to be … entertaining.
Councilman Jon Ackerson just got back to us, and he had quite a bit to say. He says that the six Republicans endorsing Parker are doing so because he refused to toe the party line from time to time.
“In my opinion, I have tried to not emulate Washington, D.C., or Frankfort, with gridlock and with radical positions that are unbending,” Ackerson says. “And I’ve tried to work with Democrats and Republicans during my four years on Metro Council, and because of that I didn’t always vote the way that leadership in the Republican caucus would have preferred. So I have a choice of either compromising my principles to please the political pandering of my party’s leaders, or voting what I think is in the best interests of District 18, which I represent. That hasn’t always sat well with them.”
When asked if council Republicans endorsing Parker — and perhaps her radical views on Obama — reflects poorly on the council and his party, Ackerson didn’t hold back.
“I have never met Marilyn Parker, but from what I’ve heard about her, and assuming those statements you made are accurate, that’s pretty extreme. I don’t know what kind of proof she has of any of that,” Ackerson says. “But for everything that I’ve heard of Marilyn, she is a radical right extremist, Tea Party, no compromise kind of candidate. And she’ll be good for the Republican caucus because she will vote the Republican line, no matter what the merits of the issue are, and I won’t.”