Mailer for Washington County Chair’s Race Includes Image of a Swastika, Inflaming Already Hotly Contested Election

"With Kathryn Harrington, Portland is on the march."

Bob Terry, a Washington County Commissioner who is running for chair, has been hitting his opponent, Kathryn Harrington, with a series of attacks trying to tie her to the political chaos in Portland streets.

Portland is one of the boogeymen of this election season's mailers and advertising, as WW reported this week.

Related: These Are The Most Memorable and Controversial Campaign Ads Arriving in Oregon Mailboxes

The new mailer goes further, in an effort to link Harrington to the violent protests that have gripped Portland since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.

"With Kathryn Harrington, Portland is on the march," reads one line.

"Unless we vote, she'll bring Portland's problems with her," reads smaller font.

They also accuse Harrington, who serves as a Washington County representative on Metro, of having "'experience' in Portland city government," which the Terry campaign said was a reference to her work at Metro.

The mailer image shows a protest, which the Terry campaign says is from 2016, and includes a swastika in the background.

That image, coming after an anti-Semitic gunman killed 11 people last week in a  Pittsburgh synagogue, is further inflaming the hard-fought race.

"We don't condone the use of a swastika in any mail piece," said Harrington in a statement. "Anti-semitism and racism have no place here in Washington County or Oregon especially in light of what happened this last weekend."

The Terry campaign replies that the original image (shown below), which was darkened in the flier, shows the swastika crossed out.

"The swastika is obviously crossed out, and anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty would know exactly what this is," says Terry campaign spokesperson Shelby Blake in a statement. "This just proves the point, we don't want this type of behavior in Washington County."

The campaign stood by its effort to tie Harrington to Portland.

"The mailer is making the case that we do not want Portland issues, leadership and crime creeping into Washington County. Kathryn is a proponent of Portland's agenda through her role at Metro," says Blake.

Update Nov. 2, 8 am:

Activist Gregory McKelvey, who was a leader in Portland's Resistance, accused Terry of using McKelvey's image as a "racist" scare tactic.

"To use my image to scare racist white people into voting for you is something I take very seriously," McKelvey tweeted. "I hope you lose you racist prick."

McKelvey, who grew up in Washington County, told WW he expects the tactic to fail.

"He is trying to convince Washington County that if they don't vote for him, an old straight white man, that they can expect minorities to fight for their rights in his county," McKelvey said. "Unfortunately that is a tactic that might work in many places in the country, but I expect Washington County to reject it."

The campaign called McKelvey's charge of racism "outlandish."

"We're not even going to respond to a comment as outlandish as that," says Blake. "This mailer is about 'Failed Portland area policies versus a strong an vibrant Washington County, under Bob Terry's Leadership.'"

But the photo with McKelvey's image may pose a different kind of problem for the campaign.

McKelvey Tweeted that it was taken by the Oregonian for a memorial in 2017 for Heather Heyer, the woman killed during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Indeed, it matches photo number 46 in this spread of photos on the Oregonian website.

The Oregonian Tweeted that they do not sell images to campaigns in response to a Tweet by McKelvey:

Dave Killen, a photographer for the Oregonian, also added in a Tweet: "This was used without our knowledge or permission."

The campaign, which has quickly responded to other inquiries, did not have a statement about the copyright issue after more than 12 hours.

Mailer (with swastika highlighted by us) and original below:

HitPiece3-(1)-1HitPiece3-(1)-2 (1)Portland protests2 (1)

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.