With campaign season right around the corner I thought I’d clear something up for everyone. There is a big difference between “going negative” and “defining your opponent.”
I’ll spare you a 55 page introduction to “Campaigning 101” and cut right to the chase.
When one political hopeful calls his opponent’s daughter a “dope using nymphomaniac,” that’s negative campaigning. When a contender calls his opponent a “tax and spend democrat,” he or she is defining their opponent.
The difference between the two is simple. Negative campaigning generally involves people not running for office, but connected to the person seeking office. Dragging Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter into a republican primary contest is negative. She has no bearing on his political record. Involving anyone outside the candidate is negative.
Defining an opponent takes into account anything that that person might have done that would make them a less than desirable candidate. Bringing up the fact that a guy has paid for four abortions for ex-girlfriends is relevant. It shows his view on a very controversial and popular topic. That’s a little extreme, but still classified as “defining your opponent.” Generally you will see ads that mention an elected official’s voting record or statements to the press. Maybe it’s something as simple as when Dee Margo pointed out Shapleigh’s disconnect with UTEP leadership.
Too many times we label anything said about “our guy” as negative. In the Shapleigh/Margo race of recent, democrats were all up in arms over ads Margo ran revealing Shapleigh’s record. Granted his accusation that Shapleigh was holding up the medical school was worded in such a way that it was proved wrong. If Margo had said, “Leadership in Austin pulled funding for the medical school due to Shapleigh’s unpopular political shenanigans,” it would have been fine. That’s the truth of the matter. Shapleigh didn’t block the funding himself, his liberal fist fighting ways and hard headedness along with Haggerty’s own problems cost the whole El Paso delegation the budgetary item. Bringing this to light was okay because it speaks to his ability to get things done in Austin. The same thing could have been said about REPUBLICAN Haggerty.
Remember as this election approaches that the candidates themselves are in play even if he or she’s “your guy.” Things aren’t truly nasty until we start pulling people not running for office in the fray.
I don’t want to hear any of you crying “he’s going negative” this election when someone calls Holguin’s voting record and political contributions into question. It’s fair game even if you don’t like it. Just like Hicks’ arrest record (not that he has one) is fair game.
Personally I like a good fistfight. It shows you what each candidate is made up of and that’s important. Things only get nastier and harder after they are elected.