Anyone looking to alienate even more citizens from the political process should take a page out of Kevin Quigley’s campaign book.
Last week Quigley, a Democratic candidate for Snohomish County executive, launched a vicious mailing saying that opponent and fellow Democrat Aaron Reardon "doctored records" to create a false charge against Quigley. The mailing, which had all the production values of a supermarket tabloid, used a list of misleading or downright fabrications to accuse Reardon of violating the public trust as a state legislator.
Quigley has since admitted to a major error in the piece, and tried to backpedal from the charge of "doctored records" by saying he really meant facts had been misrepresented in letters to the editor. Something tells us he won’t get off quite that easily.
Quigley’s hit piece sinks to a new low in its blatant disregard for truthfulness, and can only serve to raise voter cynicism and apathy. Party leaders were right to condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
Beyond the damage he has done to the process, Quigley may have inflicted a fatal blow to his own political future. His own party already has distanced itself from him. And despite what the Quigley camp may think, voters are not stupid. They can see through smear campaigns, and our guess is that the mud slung here will act like a boomerang and land on the sender.
Candidates interested in raising public interest in their campaigns should learn from this sorry episode: The high road, the one that uses a civil tone to discuss issues and qualifications for office, is the route to success — for candidates and the political process.