MNGOP accuses DFL of "using racist tactics" by darkening photo of Rep. King Banaian [IMAGE]

Did the DFL employ "racist tactics" by darkening this photo? The MNGOP thinks so.
Did the DFL employ "racist tactics" by darkening this photo? The MNGOP thinks so.

MNGOP leaders are accusing the DFL of race-baiting with a new anti-Rep. King Banaian mailer.

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The mailer darkens Banaian's skin, but the DFL says that a document released by the MNGOP that highlights the contrast actually darkens the first-term legislator's skin more than the original DFL mailer does. Banaian, an economics professor at the St. Cloud State University, is of Armenian descent.

Here's the DFL mailer:

And here's the MNGOP's side-by-side comparison of the DFL image and the original photo:

On Twitter, Kevin Watterson, media director for the MNGOP House caucus, has been criticizing the DFL -- the "party of diversity" in his words -- for using the "racist image."

Watterson's sentiment was echoed by Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington:

This isn't the first time Banaian's ethnicity has sparked controversy -- in 2010, the DFL took heat for a mailer that showed Banaian in front of a Middle Eastern-looking building.

From the St. Cloud Times:

"The DFL has doubled down on using racist tactics to try and win an election," [House Majority Leader] Matt Dean said. "These xenophobic tactics did not work in 2010 and St. Cloud voters will reject them in 2012."

DFL spokeswoman Kate Monson responded by calling Dean's charges desperate and baseless.

"The photos in question were in no way altered with the intent of making someone's skin appear darker," Monson wrote. "The DFL would never condone such tactics."

Following a recount, Banaian won election in 2010 by all of 13 votes. His DFL challenger this election cycle is Zachary Dorholt.

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