The primary contest for Missouri Attorney General between Republicans Josh Hawley and Kurt Schafer has already been nasty, but some groups are saying a recent anti-Schaeffer commercial crosses a line.
A coalition of Asian-American groups, including the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis, OCA St. Louis, the Missouri Asian American Bar Association, and the Asian American Bar Association of Kansas City, joined to condemn the ad.
The spot accuses Schaeffer of supporting a law that allows Chinese companies to buy Missouri farms. In it, two ominous-looking Asian men, in dark suits and sunglasses survey a Missouri Farm.
Watch the video here:
Peter Chung, with the Asian American Bar Association in Kansas City, say that the portrayal is racist — and unnecessary.
"If there is a legitimate issue, if you’re against foreign investment for Missouri farmland, present it as that. Don’t present Asians as evil to make this point across," Chung told Kyle Palmer on KCUR's Up To Date.
Omar Malik, president of the South Asian bar Association of St. Louis, says the ad puts Asian communities as higher risk for hate crimes.
"When rhetoric like this is used, it creates a very dangerous environment for our communities," Malik said.
The ad was paid for by the Tea Party Patriots.
Another ad, paid for by a group called Citizens to Elect Kurt Schaeffer for Attorney General accuses Schaeffer's opponent, Josh Hawley, of representing terrorists earlier in his career.
Both campaigns told the St. Louis Post Dispatch they were not associated with the ads.
Nevertheless, Malik says it's their responsibility to fix the issue.
"They need to publicly tell these organizations to stop running these ads," Malik said.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and producer at KCUR. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig.