JERSEY CITY – Is it just us, or does Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop look suspiciously unlike himself in some of the campaign literature being mailed by mayoral opponent Jerramiah T. Healy?
At first we thought it was just a bad graphics job gone wrong. But after a few readers pointed out the same campaign flier, we had to wonder.
In one Healy piece, mailed under the heading “What is Steven Fulop Hiding,” Fulop is shown with his face in three-quarter view. In the photo, the right profile of his nose appears to have a large bump that the councilman’s nose does not bear in- erson. This same photo was used in a second Healy political mailer that states, “Steven Fulop Has a Plan… He Just Doesn’t Want You to Know About It.” Again, the nose bump is evident.
Fulop is a Jewish American of Eastern European descent.
Healy and Fulop are the top mayoral contenders in a race that is still too close to call.
The suspect campaign lit is reminiscent of the infamous June 27, 1994, Time magazine cover in which O.J. Simpson’s skin was digitally darkened. At the time, Simpson was facing double murder charges for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. After Simpson was arrested and formally charged, both Newsweek and Time used his mug shot for the covers of their magazines. In Time’s version of the mug shot, however, Simpson’s skin was noticeably darker than in the Newsweek version of the same photo.
African Americans were critical of the Time cover, arguing that it reinforced stereotypes of black men. Editors at Time later admitted a photo illustrator doctored the photo.
Similar questions were raised about a 2008 Barack Obama photo that was used by the campaign of rival Democratic presidential primary nominee Hillary Clinton.
But Healy spokesman Joshua Henne insisted Monday that nothing was altered in the photo.
“Absolute nothing was altered. Absolutely not,” said Henne. “That photo is on a flash drive someone has of a bunch of pictures of [Fulop].”
When asked whether Fulop believes the Healy campaign is playing ethnic politics, his spokesman, Bruno Tedeschi said, “Nothing would surprise us at this stage, given what Mayor Healy has already done to maintain his grip on City Hall.. Rest assured, no matter what tactics Healy may use in this election, reformer Steve Fulop will put Jersey City on the right track when he is elected.”
The Jersey City municipal election will take place Tuesday, May 14. – E. Assata Wright