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BEST POLITICAL EMBARRASSMENT Minneapolis 2000 -

When Renee LaVoi first expressed interest in running for the school board last spring, her colleagues in the Minneapolis GOP knew she was conservative. During the endorsement process LaVoi, a therapist with a Bible-based private practice, had espoused boilerplate party rhetoric. In the course of various campaign forums and appearances, she teetered further to the right. But nobody was prepared for the advertisement she placed in the Star Tribune the day before the election. Titled "A VOTE FOR RENEE LAVOI IS A VOTE FOR MORALITY," the peculiar manifesto offended just about everybody conceivable, but its pronouncements on pre-Christian Africa stood out. "The music was full of evil pounding drum beats," LaVoi wrote. "The men were lazy, drunk or drugged and polygamous while the women did all the work." The point? That "America has voluntarily chosen to trade places with Africa." In the ensuing flap, GOP state chair Tony Sutton lamely offered that "elections are about contrasts." Voters saw the contrast alright, handing LaVoi a landslide defeat; still, the flap revealed just how casual political parties have become in scrutinizing candidates for low-profile office. For her part, LaVoi stood by her screed; since Minneapolitans didn't appreciate her insights, she noted, she might have to move to the suburbs. Would that more local pols came to the same conclusion.

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