Paul Osborne's
Today's Candidates Must Endure Relentless Attacks On Their Character

I’ve been covering and writing about political candidates and campaigns for this newspaper going all the way back to the 1960s.
I’ve never seen politics in general any dirtier than this election cycle.
Any candidate, Democrat or Republican, who dares to run for a district or state office, must be ready to have his or her character dragged into a cesspool of misleading statements, half-truths and flat-out lies.
There’s always been “back-room deals”, “money under the table” and a host of other “creative negative tactics” that taint some campaigns -- but a lot of that kind of activity was not seen by the general public.
When I first started covering campaigns, most candidates would not even mention the name of an opponent because that would give him or her some free publicity.
The opponent’s name was “my opponent” and that was it.
Today, candidates’ advertising mentions the name of the opponent more than they mention their own -- and it is always in a nasty way,
This year, campaigns are more about destroying the character of an opponent through negative commercials than running on solid issues.

EXAMPLE:  Let’s consider the commercials for the 13th Congressional District, which has Decatur within its boundaries.
Former Chief Judge Ann Callis is portrayed as incompetent and an embarrassment to the court during the many years she served Madison County. 
Her opponent, Congressman Rodney Davis, is accused of spending a lot of time eating steak at Washington restaurants -- with tabs totalling $40,000.
I know and have talked with both candidates several times and I must admit the people portrayed in those commercials are not the people I know.
Davis told me that he started his campaign by running family-type television commercials, but had to change because Callis attacked him in her commercials.
 “Unfortunately, you have to respond and tell people, when your opponent is lying about you, that what your opponent is saying about you is a lie,” said Davis.  “Otherwise, people who don’t know me may believe some of those lies.”
Davis said the claim in a commercial that he flies first class “is absolutely crazy”.
Davis said that people who know him know that he has never purchased a first class ticket on the taxpayers’ dime.
“They know I’m too cheap to even buy one on my own dime,” added Davis.
As far as spending $40,000 at a Washington restaurants, Davis said, “I can’t remember one instance where I have charged any item of food or drink to the taxpayers.”
Davis said his friends sometimes jokingly say “Let’s go out for a steak”, but they believe the accusation is “crazy”.
Of course, the first class flights and $40,000 at restaurants commercial is still running -- long after it was debunked.

MORE LIES:  Ann Callis has also responded to lies and distortions about her record on the bench.
A Davis commercial indicated that Callis was rated as the worst judge in Madison County.
The Callis camp responded by stating: “This misleading charge was based on survey of lawyers nearly twenty years ago that was taken just a few weeks after Callis became a judge in Madison County. Once legal professionals and law enforcement officers were able to see her work firsthand, she was regularly recommended by the Illinois State Bar Association. Callis was retained by the public in Madison County with more than 72% of the vote in 2006 and 68% of the vote in 2012, receiving more votes than any other candidate on the ballot.”  
Another anti-Callis statement in a commercial currently running on television states “Ann Callis was overturned 10 times because of Callis’ mistakes.”
The response: “Callis has tried thousands of cases as judge. Rulings can be overthrown for a number of reasons, including new evidence and testimony, which is the reason we have an appeals process.”
I wouldn’t consider 10 times out of thousands of cases “excessive”. I guess that’s why the total number of cases she presided over was conveniently left out of the commercial.  

DECEITFUL AND DISHONEST: Overall, the campaigns of 2014 have been the most deceitful and dishonest of any I can remember -- and I remember a lot of them.
Where else can you intentionally lie about someone’s character and drag them through the mud -- and not face legal action?
You can do it at will if it is a political race.  
It’s sad that our political system has evolved to the point that campaigns attempt to prove the integrity of candidates by destroying the reputation of their opponents.
In essence, we often elect people who tell lies about others in order to get elected -- and the half-truths and lies contribute to the victory.
Why do we expect candidates who resort to such tactics to be any different once they get into office?
I can’t remember any election where input from readers has been as anti-candidate, as it has been this year.
Most of that feeling of disgust has been created through false messaging in television commercials.
The readers who have contacted me are overwhelmingly fed-up with all the negative advertising. 
I have been disturbed by the tone of most campaigns in recent years and there are no signs it is going to change anytime soon -- as long as it works. 

Candidates' Quarterly Reports
Give Picture Of Campaign Status With Less Than A
Month To Go Before Election

The candidates' committees have filed their D-2 Quarterly Income and Expense forms for the third quarter (July 1st to September 30th) with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) raised a huge amount of money in his race to be re-elected in the 48th District.
Manar reported receipts of $316,762.93 for the quarter.  Manar had a beginning fund balance of $576,404.11 on June 30 and adding those numbers and subtracting expenses of $439,710.21 his fund balance on Sept. 30 was $453,456.83.
Manar’s opponent Linda Little (R-Decatur) had total receipts of $234,843.00 during the quarter and expenditures of $216,280.61.  Little reported a fund balance at the beginning of the reporting period of $8,953.60 and ended the quarter with a fund balance of $27,515.99. 
In the other senate race impacting directly on Decatur, Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) is running unopposed in the 51st State Senate District.  Friends of Chapin Rose reported total receipts of $23,185.00.  Rose had a beginning fund balance of $59,590.43 which, after $25,259.62 in expenses, decreased to 57,515.81 at the end of September.
HOUSE: Mike Bell (R-Edinburg), who is challenging incumbent Democrat Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) for state representative in the 96th District, had $17,963.82 in his campaign fund at the beginning of the quarter, and received $110,471.00 in receipts and, minus expenses of $91,895.80, ended the quarter with a balance of $36,539.02.
Friends of Sue Scherer reported she had a beginning fund balance of $67,005.17 and total receipts of $252,525.00. She had expenditures of $205,967.81 to produce $113,562.36 for an ending fund balance on Sept. 30.
As I predicted at the end of the previous quarter, Scherer has the money she needs to stay ahead of Bell in fundraising.
Her fund balance grew over $46,000.00 during the quarter despite the expenses during the quarter.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth), who doesn’t have an opponent in his re-election effort, raised $42,848.12 during the third quarter and spent $17,983.19.  His starting fund balance at the beginning of the quarter was $117,799.89 and he closed the quarter with $142,664.82 in funds available.   

DAVIS, CALLIS: Third quarter reports have been filed with the Federal Election Commission for the 13th Congressional District and Republican Incumbent Rodney Davis ended the quarter with a fund balance of $1,268,459.68, after total receipts of $563,984.43 minus disbursements of $628,937.59.  His fund balance at the end of the second quarter was $1,331,928, so his campaign balance didn’t change a whole lot during the last quarter despite spending over $626,000.00 on the campaign. 
His challenger, Democrat Ann Callis raised  $400,835.02 during the third quarter, had $572,158.60 in disbursements and a fund balance of $545,881.01 on the last day of September.
With only a few weeks to go until the Nov. 4th election there will be wall-to-wall radio and television commercials for candidates.
Unfortunately most campaigns today are based on demeaning and defaming the opponent -- not on the issues -- and it’s a sorry sight to see.

Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY.  




Paul Osborne
Editor & Publisher

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