Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's rush to drag the Washington Redskins into the race-charged debate over the lifetime ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is getting some pushback from another prominent Democrat: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
While Reid thinks the Redskins' name is akin to the racist ranting of Sterling, McAuliffe, who once ran the Democratic Party, said there is no comparison and thinks government officials should just butt out of the debate.
"Governors should not be telling private sector businesses what to do with their businesses," he said on the Washington radio station WTOP during its “Ask the Governor” program Wednesday.
McAuliffe said that Sterling had "a history and a pattern" of racism that the NBA acted on. "I would not compare the two."
The Redskins have two training facilities in Virginia, one in Richmond and the other in Ashburn.
His comments clashed with Reid, who had his own anti-Redskins rant Wednesday, taking to the Senate floor -- where major bills and treaties are normally discussed -- to call the name just as racist as Sterling's comments.
“How long will the NFL continue to do nothing, zero, as one of its team bears the name that inflicts so much pain for Native Americans?” he asked.
“It is untoward of Daniel Snyder to try to hide behind tradition. Tradition? That’s what he says in refusing to change the name of the team,” Reid said. “Tradition? What tradition? A tradition of racism is all that name leaves in its wake. Mr. Snyder knows that in sports, the only tradition that matters is winning, so I urge Daniel Snyder to do what’s morally right and remove this degrading term from the league by changing his team’s name.”
Snyder, the team owner, has pledged to keep the name, calling it a proud part of the team’s heritage.
And it doesn’t look like McAuliffe plans to take Reid’s ball and run with it. "You don't want governors ... telling people what to do with a private sector business,” he said on WTOP.
What’s more, McAuliffe last weekend helped start the NASCAR race in Richmond where Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was the ceremonial pace car driver--and the issue never came up.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.