On the typical day, both the Cuccinelli campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia send out a multitude of press releases. For example, when I opened my email this morning, I had already received four, one at 8:00 AM, another fifteen minutes later, a third at 9:30, and the most recent at 10:45 while I was writing this piece. Each topic bore a similar theme to the multitude dispersed weeks and months prior. Today’s headlines read, “McAuliffe Biggest Obstacle Seems to be Himself”, “Terry McAuliffe’s Payday Lending Double Standard”, “McAuliffe’s Sales Pitch Starts to Sour”, and “Breaking: McAuliffe’s GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide”. For comparison, yesterday’s titles include: “Hardly Recognizable McAuliffe”, “Editorials Across Virginia Focus on the SEC Investigation Surrounding McAuliffe’s GreenTech”, “Meet McAuliffe’s Environmental Sugar Daddy Tom Steyer”, and “ICYMI: New TV Ad Scandal”.
Notice a theme? Not a single email is centered on Cuccinelli’s record in public service, either as a state senator or as our sitting attorney general. Instead, each seeks to degrade, demonize, or question the ethics of Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent for governor.
Don’t misunderstand the point of this opinion piece. I firmly believe that negative campaigning serves an important purpose when used constructively and in moderation. Some Republicans cried foul when Jamie Radtke attacked George Allen during the 2012 Republican Senate primary. However, she didn’t just simply criticize Allen, but offered a contrast how a Senator Radkte would differ from a Senator Allen.
These Cuccinelli pieces are different. They offer nothing positive other than to suggest that voters ought to elect Ken simply because he is not Terry; that McAuliffe is so ethically challenged that anything or anyone is a better alternative.
Although I haven’t watched each race as closely as this one, as someone who has followed politics for 19 years, I’ve never seen anything quite like the tactics that the Cuccinelli campaign and the RPV is employing. For at least a month previously, the Cuccinelli campaign harassed (and yes, harassed is a good word for it), McAuliffe to release his tax returns. As far as I know, a person’s tax returns are his or her own private business and aren’t required to be released when he or she runs for public office. Many people within the Cuccinelli camp argued that if McAuliffe had “nothing to hide then he would have nothing to fear”. Even though politically useful in this situation, that line of thinking is exceedingly dangerous and works to further erode the privacy rights of our citizens, especially future office seekers.
As a conservative, I believe that Ken Cuccinelli has made many laudable accomplishments during his time as attorney general. However, I am absolutely disgusted by these daily messages, especially the constant barrage from the RPV, seeking only to deride Terry McAuliffe even further. It is as if they are blindly throwing darts as fast as they can, hoping that at least one will hit the board. No. The ends do not justify the means.
Who’s to blame for all of this excessive negativity? Is it Ken Cuccinelli? Cuccinelli’s staff? RPV Chairman Pat Mullins? Or is it someone else within the state party? To be fair, a majority of these emails come from the Republican Party of Virginia. However, I suppose it doesn’t matter, for as long as these messages continue without being denounced by Ken Cuccinelli, all are complicit.
Given the tone the campaign has taken thus far, I suspect it won’t be too long until we start seeing ads like Elizabeth Dole’s completely outlandish attack against Kay Hagen in 2008.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached a breaking point. I’m on the verge of non-discriminately trashing everything the Cuccinelli campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia sends out. This unconstructive, unrelenting negativity has to end!