Monday, October 26, 2015

What's Dirty?

On the Dryden Independence Party's Facebook page, an apparent Dem supporter says, "Smear campaigns don't go far. This is the first smear campaign I've seen for Dryden. Shame on Craig Schutt." Whereupon a Schutt supporter writes, "When did the facts become a smear campaign?"

Good question. The first poster must not remember the real smear campaigns of the mid-2000s, when Democrat Mary Ann Sumner's lack of religious fervor and failure to pledge to the flag became a drumbeat issue for the unpleasant bunch of Tea Party Republicans running against her. That smear campaign, which was totally personal and unrelated to town governance, failed.

This year, the Independence Party, in a series of increasingly rabid Shopper ads, has accused our team of "dirty politics" and "coordinated politically motivated attacks." They refer, I think, to an article that came out in the Ithaca Times on Schutt's mismanagement of Soil & Water when he was there—something I can pretty confidently say nobody on our committee save the county legislators knew anything about before the article aired. What we know, we continue to read in the paper, and if the Independence Party thinks somehow that multiyear fiscal mismanagement of a critical agency is irrelevant to a campaign for town supervisor, they really don't understand the job of town supervisor.

My guess is that it was news to the rest of the Independence Party candidates, too—I don't think Tom Hatfield is stupid—and that most of their hysteria derives from trying to manage a message that has gotten away from them entirely. But is it "dirty politics" when an independent newspaper prints the truth about a candidate for office?

The Independence Party sent the letter below to all nonaffiliated Dryden voters. We annotated it and posted the corrected version. Is it dirty politics to print things that are completely untrue? Is it dirty politics to correct the misstatements?

I just got a call from WHCU about a press release I sent out about the 30 political signs stolen from yards in Newfield. Is it dirty politics when someone steals only Democratic signs and leaves the Republican ones standing?

This is small-town, penny-ante stuff, and it's nothing new. Sometimes competition brings out the worst in people, as when sports teams get arrested for trashing other teams' locker rooms. But I think every campaign the Democrats have run in the county this year has been clean as a whistle. We've talked about issues, and we've told the truth. If being organized and effective makes us a "machine," I can happily live with that.

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