NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, Tennessee, has a great little scoop about a MAGA Republican mayoral candidate in Franklin who appears to be George Santosing her way through her race. It seems we’ve already got a contender for the most hilarious political face-plant of the 2024 season.
The short version is that Franklin alderman and MAGA Republican Gabrielle Hanson, who appears to have all of the problematic beliefs you would expect of that “MAGA” designation, has been inventing an apparently fictional friend group of people who supposedly support her candidacy. A picture Hanson posted of a supposed “Executive Women’s Club” that supports her turns out to be a 2016 image of a Chicago, Illinois, brunch for a group of women chosen for a clothing ad campaign.
When chief investigative reporter Phil Williams began contacting the women in the photo, those women didn’t know who Hanson was, were not her friends, were not in Tennessee, and were certainly not supporting her campaign.
Yup. What we have here is a good old-fashioned photo swipe, but not even the usual kind in which Republican candidates promote their support for “the troops” by constantly swiping images of Russian people and industries, Russian military hardware, and Russian stock models. No, this is a MAGA Republican swiping images to make it look like she has friends.
Williams’ report is a gem, but the real showstopper, the thing you have to hear to believe, is the phone conversation that occurred when Hanson and a campaign aide called up Williams to complain about his reporting. And you are just going to have to watch it, because I can’t do it justice.
From the story:
In a bizarre and rambling conversation, Hanson and campaign aide Erin Mazzoni refused to answer any questions about the post, saying a federal court had upheld the rights of candidates to post whatever they want.
Hanson and Mazzoni suggested NewsChannel 5’s questions amounted to “stalking.”
“This is not appropriate towards a woman, Phil,” Mazzoni said.
“We are doing this in the light, and we are doing this with God on our side.”
“God and the federal courts say MAGA candidates can lie as much as they want” is exactly where you expected this to go, and you and I both know it. Pointing out my lies is stalking me! How dare you report on my candidacy! I’m going to report you to the Pope of Making Stuff Up!
Yeah, that’s the stuff.
It might be noteworthy that there have been two branded political “movements” on the right in the past two decades, and both appear to have been premised primarily on getting the absolute worst people you know into positions of power. The supposed Tea Partiers claimed to be upset about taxes, but when the movement chose its actual candidates to send to Washington, D.C., there was little but crackpots and racists (and crackpot racists) as far as the eye could see. After the Tea Party made a solid name for itself as America’s loudest know-nothing jackasses who were all addicted to lying through their teeth, former President Donald Trump came along and formalized this “worst people you know” plan into the be-all, end-all goal of Republicanism. A new generation of “MAGA” candidates started streaming in who reveled in conspiracy theories, spread hoaxes and lies seemingly compulsively, reportedly dabbled in cocaine use, and were accused of being involved in sex trafficking because apparently, why the hell not.
A MAGA Republican inventing a fictional group of friends who supposedly actually like her and like being around her? That’s almost quaint. Maybe she can pretend to adopt a sick dog while she’s at it.
There is likely to be a bit more to this story in coming weeks, however. With some additional sleuthing on the part of the women whose identities were stolen, it turns out that Gabrielle Hanson was herself one of the “Chicago leaders” selected in by apparel company The Limited’s ad campaign in 2015. But the women at the 2016 brunch are insistent: Hanson wasn’t there.
Hanson had previously said she had moved to Franklin three years before that, though, so that’s pretty weird. Was she a “Chicago leader” from her home in Franklin, Tennessee? Must have been a hell of a commute.
Trump’s continuing legal problems, the car crash of a Republican debate, and the polling numbers defy the traditional media’s narrative that the Republican Party is even above water with voters.