Smith rejects GOP ‘hit piece’ against Haugen

Herald staff

A woman who wants to take state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen’s job in the Legislature disavowed Thursday a negative campaign ad mailed this week to 10th Legislative District voters.

Norma Smith of Clinton said the mailer was sent out by the state Republican Party without her knowledge.

"I find that this mailing by the state Republican Party is in conflict with the standards I’ve pledged to uphold in my campaign, and I denounce their actions," Smith said in a statement.

The 10th District includes a swatch of northwestern Snohomish County and all of Whidbey and Camano islands.

The attack was on the veteran legislator Haugen, D-Camano Island, chairwoman of the important Senate Transportation Committee.

Haugen’s election staff was glad to see Smith distance herself from the ad, but campaign manager Laura Lewis has doubts about Smith not knowing about the mailer.

"I say she wins either way," Lewis said of Smith. "She gets double publicity on it. As a campaign manager, I don’t see how it could have gone out without (Smith’s) knowledge."

That’s exactly what many candidates across party lines are claiming this year, however.

The ad consists of a photo of Haugen and a caption, "I’m a tax-aholic." The piece accuses the senator of being "addicted to property taxes."

Lewis also said the piece is inaccurate and misleading because Haugen has voted for a number of tax cuts.

Smith, who has been on the staff of U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf, R-Wash., has pledged to avoid negative advertising.

"I have kept my word," Smith said in her statement.

Smith said she has demanded that the Republican Party stop sending out materials that conflict with the pledge, and she asks all other organizations that might send out campaign materials to do likewise.

Such political "hit pieces" frequently come toward the end of campaigns. Lewis said her camp will not resort to negative campaigning, and Haugen previously demanded that the Democratic Party do the same.

"This is in our control, and it’s in Norma’s control to say, ‘Don’t do this,’ " Lewis said.

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