Thursday, September 28, 2006

Negative or dirty?

An advertisement for Congressman Mike Sodrel claims that one of the reasons he ran for Congress is to "stop career politicians like Baron Hill from shipping jobs overseas". The Hill campaign immediately complained that the advertisement violated the clean campaign pledge both men signed a few weeks ago. But did the advertisement violate the pledge?

It is well-documented that, before he was fired from Congress, Baron Hill voted for Most Favored Nation trade status for Communist China. That is something that Congressman Sodrel opposed during the campaign. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed concern that MFN for China results in more manufacturing (i.e. jobs) moving to Red China.

I have two of the first three mailers sent by the Indiana Republican Party over the last month. Both mailers cite sources for the claims made against Baron Hill, so that the claims can be independently verified.

There's a significant difference between a negative campaign and a nasty campaign. Both parties have a responsibility to the voters to explain not only why their candidate is worthy of office, but also why the opposing candidate is not worthy of office. This is a rare race, in that both candidates are effectively incumbents. Baron Hill has a six-year track record in Congress and it is perfectly reasonable to criticize that record, so long as criticisms are factual and truthful.

Baron Hill would do himself a favor to stop whining about attacks on him. People who are very experienced in politics have commented to me that when you are on defense, you're losing. Two years ago, Baron Hill was effectively the biggest contributor to the independent Bloomington-based political group known as Citizens for Truth, because Hill's whining gave CFT a lot of free media.

Both the Hill and Sodrel campaigns have complained about illegal automated phone calls designed to lead people to vote against a candidate. While one letter to the editor in the Herald-Times expressed hope that Mike Sodrel would put a stop to these calls, it would be illegal for either Sodrel or Hill to have any contact with these 527 groups to encourage them to do anything, including asking them to stop making the illegal automated calls. All the campaigns can do is ask the Attorney General to step in and enforce the law.

Baron Hill was first out of the gate, complaining about illegal automated calls from the Economic Freedom Fund, but Sodrel also filed a complaint about illegal automated calls made by American Family Voices. Interestingly enough, independent Leftist political groups have been making negative calls against Mike Sodrel for well over a year. It is unfortunate that the Herald-Times has not covered this fact nearly as well as they could have, but the Republican Party needs to me more aggressive in making this fact known.

It isn't even October yet. This one looks like it is going to be a real slobberknocker.