Former Tennessee state Democratic Rep. Justin Pearson is facing criticism from conservatives for altering his voice and mannerisms while speaking publicly, which was made evident in unearthed footage from an election he took part in nearly a decade ago at Maine’s Bowdoin College.
A college campaign ad for Pearson’s successful bid for president of Bowdoin Student Government in 2016 showed a more casual Pearson who pushed for unity and understanding among his peers.
“I’m Justin J. Pearson, and I’m running for president of BSG,” Pearson said in the school campaign ad. “There are a few reasons why we’re running this campaign this year. One has to do with representation … How can we represent all voices in a conversation?”
Pearson said his efforts were meant to garner responses from both Democrats and Republicans on campus at the time.
“I wanna bring together different voices — dissenting voices, voices that may be more liberal or more conservative — in order that we can reach a point of, sort of, the radical middle,” he said in the campaign video.
Pearson, who represented Tennessee’s 86th District in the state House, was one of three lawmakers, along with Democrat Reps. Gloria Johnson and Justin Jones, who riled up gun control protesters and took to the House floor to call on their colleagues to take action against gun violence last month.
As a consequence of their actions, both Pearson and Jones were expelled from the House by Republicans.
Several social media users were quick to notice the alteration in Pearson’s voice and behavior from 2016 to now.
“Justin Pearson is a complete fraud,” conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong wrote in a tweet.
Delano Squires, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, also weighed in on the unearthed footage and pointed out the difference in Pearson’s “cadence and presentation” from 2016 to now.
“Check the difference in cadence and presentation between 2016 and now,” Squires wrote in a tweet. “Not sure whose 60s-inspired cosplay is faker—Kaep’s journey from clean cut playboy to Black Panther or Pearson’s transition from Bowdoin student to MLK impersonator.”
“These guys are faker than a $3 bill,” Squires added in a response to another tweet.
“This is like an SNL skit. Amazing,” Outkick founder Clay Travis commented in a tweet.
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