It is a fact of political life that you run into sharp elbows during a campaign. And while everyone calls for a “clean campaign” and complains bitterly about how “dirty” some campaigns run, it is also a fact that a significant percentage of the electorate is actually swayed by such dirty campaigns. Neither of those facts require us to like the situation, however, and I am completely disinterested in the excuses: when a campaign descends into a level of rhetoric that is nothing more than an attempt to smear their opponents, it cheapens us all and I say so when I hear about it.
I supported Tag Greason in the 2009 elections and support him wholeheartedly today. That didn’t stop me from commenting when a mailer went out bringing up an alleged infraction by his opponent where he’d supposedly failed to pay taxes on this or that property. Tag was and is a man of stellar integrity and ability. He didn’t need to toss that particular mudball and it made him look bad when it happened. Fortunately his campaign didn’t continue to make a big deal about it and concentrated on the issues and his opponent’s actual record in office. We can see how that worked out for him today when we very proudly call him “Delegate Tag Greason.”
While my own 34th District Delegate, Barbara Comstock, is not having to deal with a primary, there are Districts nearby who are. One of the ones that is of interest to me is in the 10th where a man I’ve been blessed to know is involved in a 3-way struggle. Randy Minchew has been mentioned here on these pages before and I cannot give a higher recommendation than the one I give for him now. If you’re in the 10th, Randy’s the man you need to send to the general elections in November and he’s the guy you need to send to the General Assembly next term.
The other one is in the 87th, right next door to me. In fact, I’m so close to the line between the 34th and the 87th that when I drive to the end of the main street out of my subdivision, I can see part of the 87th right there. The Republican primary is pitting David Ramadan against Jo-Ann Chase. Now, if you’ve been reading HoodaThunk? at all lately, you already know what side of that debate I’m on. I have my reasons, I’ve already stated them and I stand by them. To say that this campaign has been dirty is the understatement of the decade. And, in the interests of a little even-handedness, I’m going to make this final statement of mine on the matter starting with a huge disappointed feeling in the campaign of David Ramadan regarding a mailer I got this weekend.
Titled, “What’s Wrong With Jo Ann Chase?” the flyer makes a number of points about Chase’s unsuitability for office. Now, I’d like to stipulate right now that literally every one of these points is factually true and backed up with public records. What I have problems with are both the 1 point that was a personal matter and, frankly, isn’t something that we should be using as a yardstick for whether a person is fit for public office. That’s an opinion of mine, however, and the fact that it’s a verified matter backed up with court documents gives someone a reasonable argument that I’m wrong. What is not, however, was the deliberate use of a picture of Ms. Chase specifically chosen to show her as some sort of casting call for the wicked witch of the west. Hey, we all have bad pictures, taken in bad light or at a crummy moment. Is it really necessary to scour the available shots to find one that makes your opponent looks like 30 miles of bad road? What was said on the flyer that couldn’t have been said without any picture at all? Honestly, if that’s the only picture you have of her, the honorable thing to do would have been to leave the flyer with just the text and be done. This was needlessly spiteful, the kind of high-school nastiness I would have hoped someone vying to be a delegate in Virginia’s General Assembly would have grown out of. Not your best decision, Mr. Ramadan. Frankly, it makes it look like it’s your judgement that’s flawed.
That said, however, I can certainly understand the inclination on Mr. Ramadan’s part to give a quick jab of the elbows. Ms. Chase’s campaign has been nothing but mean-spirited and toxic from the word “go.” I’ve already mentioned the little “press conference” her supporters held that amounted to little more than “oooooo, Ramadan comes from Lebanon and you know what THOSE people are like!” Chase doubled down over the weekend, now insisting on called Ramadan by his birth name – a decidedly Lebanese-sounding name, of course – and putting “David” in quotes. She simply repeats the same ad hominem attacks calling into question his loyalty to America and fitness for office over his ethnicity. Her supporters continue to hammer away at the question of whether he even lives in the District, chanting the mantra that he doesn’t live in the house he gives as his address even though the matter of his 2nd house has been answered reasonably already. And, to repeat myself, she has:
- suggested Ramadan’s ancestry should be held against him in determining his fitness to hold office.
- whined that official, public records unflattering to herself are somehow out of bounds.
- threatened lawsuits against people who speak out against her candidacy.
I’ll be happy beyond words when this whole primary business is over tomorrow night and I call upon all Republicans – primary victors and primary defeated – to lay all this bitterness aside. Put as much effort into supporting the winners of the primaries as has been put into tearing some of them down.