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Candidate Accused of Changing Colors

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Candidate Accused of Changing Colors

Tom Swiss, who is running for the state House from a West Side district, has already changed his partisan colors. He’s a former director of the Chicago Republican Party who is on the ballot as a Democrat. Now, he’s being accused of trying to hide his skin color, by posting a billboard of a black construction worker, alongside the name “Tom Swiss, Democrat for State Representative.”

“Jobs Now!” say the words beneath the photo of a man in a hard hat, carrying a bunch of steel rods.

The construction worker doesn’t look like a politician, so it’s hard to believe than anyone would think it’s Swiss. And the “Jobs Now!” tag makes it clear that it’s an issue message. Swiss told the Sun-Times he used a photo of a black man because his district is 50 percent African-American, so those are the people who would fill the construction jobs he wants to bring to his constituents.

“I don’t look at this as a race issue — I look at it as a socio-economic issue: These guys are my guys,” he said. “I’m out in the community, I’m knocking on doors. I am not remotely trying to hide that I’m white.”

Swiss isn’t trying to hide who he is -- he has another billboard with his own white face on it -- but the Democratic Party is giving him a hard time because he’s an interloper in this primary -- a white Republican running in a black Democratic district. But he’s getting more publicity than a Chicago Republican running for the state legislature has gotten in years.

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