Saturday, October 7, 2006

Election Season in Colorado

Given the current state of world politics, it is no surprise that this election season is one of the nastiest ever. Here in Colorado the governor's race and the House races have been especially dirty. The locally produced television ads are bad enough, but the tactics employed by the 527 groups are so over the top and deceitful they almost make me laugh.

One 527 ad portrays the Democratic candidate for governor, Bill Ritter, as having plea bargained an astonishing 97% of his cases as a state prosecutor, many involving illegal aliens. This is just 2% higher than the national average of 95%, and plea bargains by prosecutors are for guilty pleas, so what's the fuss? If he is successfully putting guilty parties behind bars, including illegal aliens, isn't that what he was hired to do? The ad makes it seem like these criminals are getting off easy and that the illegal aliens are being deported. Not so!

This ad is nothing compared to the ads directed by Marilyn Musgrave, the Republican incumbent from the 4th Congressional district, against her Democratic challenger, Angie Paccione. Each of Musgrave's ads begins with a clip of her saying, "I'm Marilyn Musgrave and I approved this ad," followed by a horrific personal attack. In one Paccione is accused of voting to approve college tuition breaks for illegal aliens ("Angie Paccione is on the wrong side of the border!"). In another, she is accused of being a deadbeat who has had financial difficulty as recently as two years ago ("Is this the kind of person we want representing Colorado?").

I find it unbearably grating when the first ads I see for a political candidate are negative. Instead of saying what they will do for us if elected or explaining their stands on crucial issues, they attack their competitors, trying to convince us that they are the lesser of two evils. If that's the best they have to offer, what's the point? It makes me want to vote for the other guy, just out of spite!

Nothing is more satisfying than to see these tactics backfire. Recent polls show the Musgrave-Paccione race to be a virtual tie, surprising when you consider that Musgrave's district north of Denver is predominantly right-wing conservative. But when you publicly make such unbelievably wrong-headed statements as, "Gay marriage is the most important issue that we face today," you deserve to go down in defeat.

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