February 21, 2017 7:39 AM
There’s not much to say about the so-called “ethics” case against Gwinnett Commissioner Tommy Hunter. The commissioner, in Facebook post, called beloved civil rights memorial and graphic novelist John Lewis a “racist pig,” after Lewis declared the presidency of Donald Trump illegitimate. Both men are wrong, of course, but Lewis’ comments at least rose above the playground level.
Hunter has tried to apologize for his remarks, but the complainants have refused to listen, and will accept nothing less than seppuku or resignation. Or so they claim. That’s not what they’ll likely get, nor what they really want.
The “ethics” complaint is moving forward in one of the best bits of political theater ever played. Using Hunter’s remarks as a basis for accusing him of “conduct unbecoming” his office, a pair of clever attorneys, Christine Koehler and Helen Kim Ho, are going to milk this for every headline they can.
Hunter represents Gwinnett Commission District 3, basically the southern and eastern portion of the County that has been trending from majority white to majority non-white for years. Hunter barely won reelection last fall, eking out a 51-49% win. A competent challenger who bothered to raise any amount of money would likely have unseated him.
Gwinnett Democrats know a weak candidate when they see one, and are circling like wolves around a slow calf. The bogus ethics complaint will dry up Hunter’s donations and tag him as a racist. In voters’ minds, he’ll become “the guy who said something bad about john Lewis.” And since his removal from office by an as-yet constituted ethics board is most likely a constitutional impossibility, Gwinnett’s Democrats will have to settle for defeating a weakened incumbent using a non-white electorate who will have been fed four years of headlines reminding them that Tommy Hunter once said something mean about John Lewis on Facebook.
Is this fair? Of course not, politics ain’t bean-bag. But it’s the exact same technique that got Donald Trump elected, and it will probably work in Gwinnett.