The real Chris Stewart: a CP interview with the embattled school board member-elect

class=img_thumbleft>It all happened too late for this week's print edition, but I've posted a web interview with Chris Stewart, the man at the center of the flap about the satiric Tammy Lee website that painted the IP candidate as a racist.

Here's an excerpt, with a link to the full interview afterward:

CP: What was it that bugged you and your friends at AHS enough about the Tammy Lee candidacy that it was worth going to the trouble of building this spoof page?

Stewart: Let me give the John Kerry answer: I was for Tammy Lee before I was against Tammy Lee. I liked Tammy Lee. I was a former Independence Party candidate, I was very supportive of Peter Hutchinson every time I saw him--he was the first person I talked to when I decided to run for Minneapolis school board. And then I had a sit-down with people from the Independence Party. And every time I'd see Tammy Lee, I'd thank her, because she was running a really clean campaign and it was something I was glad to see. I was a Keith Ellison supporter, but I really appreciated what she was doing.

When the quote came out with her saying to Sarah Janecek [of the Politics in Minnesota newsletter] that liberals in the district were just a little bit too eager to elect a Minnesota black to Congress, I thought about that. I thought about the fact that what I know about Keith Ellison--people talk about the troubles in his life and reduce him to that. But when I thought about it, I saw a guy with an advanced education who's a dad, who's married, who's given a lot back to the community. In terms of what we're taught growing up as African-Americans, that's kind of the Valhalla. If you do that, you're successful.

So he's passed all the signposts you're supposed to have to pass to be successful, but it comes down to people claiming he was chosen because he was black. And that's very insulting. And it was doubly insulting coming from someone I'd placed so much faith in. I'd written good things about Tammy Lee, and I had faith in her.

When that quote came out, it deflated me. It's perplexing in part because it's saying that all the liberals in CD5 are racist--that they have no minds beyond seeing a black candidate and thinking, let's send him! Keith Ellison was more than that. So that bothered me, and it bothered people around me.

My spoof was, to me, not a spoof of Tammy Lee--it was a spoof of the idea that we shouldn't vote for this guy because he was chosen for his race. That was the subtext of the spoof in my mind: Vote for me, because I'm not the guy who got chosen because he was black.

The rest of the interview is here.

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