We like the person. We don't like the campaign.
A robust discussion of the issues is like a hearty meal to the political junkie.
- "He said that, now he's saying that. He's just a flip-flopper."
- "He's voted to raise taxes this many times."
- "She voted for Obamacare."
- "They voted against the Affordable Health Care Act."
- "He was in favor of NAFTA."
While discussion over the issues is considered fair game, despite an almost certain embarrassment over votes made, due to tricky, but legal shenanigans; negative campaigning is frequently a turnoff to knowledgable voters. Personal attacks, using family members in campaign smears, and such tactics leave a bad taste in the mouth of voters who become reluctant to cast their ballot for anyone.
But, even worse, in my opinion, is dishonest campaigning.
Take Wil Cardon's campaign for example. Having met Wil, I can assure you he's very nice, he remembers names rather well, his wife is charming and his kids are adorable. But, in my opinion, his campaign stinks, and it reflects poorly on Wil.
Let me give you some examples of what turns me off personally.
Example One: "Why hasn't Jeff Flake signed tthe Arizona First Pledge?"
The emailed campaign letter continues, "81 days ago, Wil Cardon asked Congressman Jeff Flake to join him in pledging to put Arizona first. He's asking that both candidates work to keep this Senate race fair, balanced and without interference from Super PAC's or third party groups."
Well, evidently, Jeff Flake declined to sign that pledge. I assume he's allowed to pledge what he wants. Despite what the Cardon campaign says, "Arizonans are asking why Congressman Flake hasn't signed the Arizona First Pledge." I can assure you that not all Arizonans are asking that, and multitudes probably don't care.
While this isn't an egregious misstep, it's rather annoying to get almost daily updates on whether or not Jeff Flake signed a phony pledge. I'd much rather hear about why Cardon thinks this pledge is important, and why he's turned it into a key part of his campaign. It's easy enough to say, "I've signed this pledge because... My opponent has chosen not to join me."
Example Two: "Day 24 - Congressman Flake Not Responding to Debate Challenge"
This is similar to Example One above. Wil Cardon has challenged Flake to a debate. Supposedly Flake has declined (more on that in a moment).
Well, Flake has a right to decline if he wants to. If a bully challenges you to a fight in the playyard, and you decide not to participate, does that mean you're scared or smart? The immature bully might assume you're scared. The wiser adults might pat you on the back for showing good sense. You decide.
However, I've got a newsflash for you. I've been told that on July 13, both Congressman Jeff Flake and Candidate Wil Cardon have agreed to appear at Las Fuentes at a debate scheduled by Republican Precinct Committeewoman Jan Hilton. Hilton schedules monthly forums for candidates during election cycles so that the elderly residents in Las Fuentes have a chance to see and hear the candidates for themselves. The last word I had was that both Flake and Cardon were confirmed attendees.
Of course, no guarantees, this could certainly change in the next week and a half - only time will tell.
In the meantime, hold the presses, please.
Oh, and by the way, both Jeff Flake and Wil Cardon were in the Frontier Days parade, although, it's true, they did not hold a debate in the middle of the street.
Example Three: Doctored Photos
To start with, in the interest of full disclosure, this is a personal issue for me. Two years ago, Ann Kirkpatrick's campaign stole a video clip of an interview with then-candidate Paul Gosar, doctored it, and used it in a hit piece ad against him. After the election, Kirkpatrick's attorney from Seattle, Washington, claimed it was "Fair Use". While I vehemently disagreed, I didn't have the funds to waste on a lawsuit, in which only the lawyers would profit.
That explanation aside, let me tell you what Cardon's campaign has done.
They took a photo, which was posted on a flickr page by Congressman Jack Kingston; Photoshopped out Congressman Tom Graves, and put Obama in his place to imply that Flake agrees with Obama's policies. His campaign then unapologetically used this fake photo in a video called, "Same as Obama."
We asked Congressman Kingston if he gave Cardon's campaign permission to use the photo. Chris Crawford, the Congressman's spokesperson, responded on June 4, 2012, "...no, we did not give the Cardon campaign permission to use the photo. Its use would be a violation of the copyright placed on the photo on Flickr and highly-inappropriate for campaign use as it was produced at government expense."
When we asked Alyssa Pivirotto, the Communications Director for Wil Cardon for US Senate, if she had permission to use the photo, she responded via email, "As you can see from the attached screen shot, the image you wrote to us about is featured on the official, taxpayer-funded web site of Congressman Jack Kingston. Per copyright law, any images, copy and information displayed on such a site is in the public domain. As such, any user of that image would have no need to seek permission, written or otherwise."
Here is the screenshot she sent in her response:
Example Four: Misleading Photos
In the video, "Membership Has Its Privileges," a photo is shown of Congressman Flake supposedly, "...hobnobbing with lobbyists."
But, according to Jeff Flake in a June 24 post on his facebook page, "Problem is, these are actually two members of Congress - Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK). Representatives Schuster and Sullivan have issued as statement asking for a correction.
"Not only has a correction not been made, the false ad is still being promoted on my opponents website."
We Get To Decide
So, as voters, we get to decide who we support. Unfortunately, that might be trickier than it seems. Because there appears to be two Wil Cardons - one that is personable and kind, or one that allows his campaign to doctor photos and mislabel pictures of Congressional members.
Gentlemen, please, stick to the issues. Bring fresh, innovative ideas, not worn out attacks, Photoshopped ads and phony challenges. Convince me, and my fellow voters, as to why you would be the best candidate to deal with the growing challenges our state faces. And leave the other nonsense alone.
Let's see if you're up to that challenge.
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