City Beat: Election Day Is Less Than Two Months Away — Time For Politicians To Attack Character Of Opponents?
It seems like the campaign for this election year has gone on forever! Now that Labor Day is behind us and Election Day 2022 is ahead of us on Nov. 8th, I think we can expect some of the candidates to get nasty and try to assassinate the character of their opponents. In fact, that has already started in some of the races impacting on Decatur and Central Illinois.
The gloves came off early in the race for governor with opponents attacking each other from the get-go. The Republican gubernatorial primary campaign was brutal by any political standard and the attacks down the stretch promise to be even more of the same. The battle between Governor J.B. Pritzker and his Republican challenger Darren Bailey is already full of “political swipes” but look for the intensity to escalate the closer with get to Nov. 8.
•THE RACE between Democrat Nikki Budzinski and Republican Regan Deering in the 13th Congressional District warmed up immediately after the June primary. The IL 13 was drawn to favor Budzinski but national issues involving President’s Joe Biden’s handling of inflation and other issues have put additional pressure on Democrat candidates to win in November. Deering is proving to be a worthy candidate and both campaigns are increasing attacks on the credibility of their opponent. Budzinski is now focusing on the abortion issue and attracting pro-abortion supporters to her campaign. Deering has a view which would classify her as pro-life, although her stance is not against abortion in every instance. She believes there are exceptions. The abortion rhetoric will escalate the closer we get to Nov. 8.
• STATE SENATOR Doris Turner (D-Springfield) represents part of Decatur and Macon County in the 48th District, after being appointed to the position last year. She is running for election against Sandy Hamilton (R-Springfield). A few weeks ago, I started seeing some television commercials about Turner that I thought were good. Those commercials presented Turner as a person who was friendly, well-respected and easy to like. That’s the way I found Turner to be when she sat down with me at the Tribune not that long ago to talk about her reasons for serving as state senator, what she has accomplished and hopes to accomplish.
Recently, I saw a couple commercials bashing her opponent Hamilton and, in my opinion, diminished the positive impact of the good commercials. I realize that usually this kind of advertising isn’t directly authorized by a candidate, but “Paid for by Friends of Doris Turner” has her name on those negative commercials.
• AS I’VE mentioned often in this column, I remember covering campaigns years ago when candidates would not even mention the name of their opponent because they didn’t want to give him or her any publicity. Back then, candidates campaigned on their qualifications and vision for the office, not try to destroy the reputation of the opponent. I still believe voters should cast their ballots “for” a candidate, not “against” a candidate.
Years ago, when I campaigned for my first term as mayor, I faced three opponents in the primary election. I don’t ever remember that any of us bashed anyone else in the campaign. In fact, after I won the primary, one of the candidates, Pat McDaniel, worked on my campaign as we moved towards the General Election. (Several years later, Pat won election to the city council and served for many years.) Dave Butts also made it through the primary and as we appeared together in interviews, there was never any hostility between us. One of my sons was in the Gulf War at the time and I remember Dave, during one of our informal conversations, told me that he was praying for the safety of my son.
When I won the election, Dave called and congratulated me and there was never any bad feelings between us. That’s a far cry from what we often see happen between candidates at the state and national level these days — even in Presidential races.
There is nothing wrong with political debate on the issues. There is something wrong with personal attacks that are meant to demean a candidate, instead of disagree with his or her platform. Let’s choose the people we want to lead us based on what they represent, not based on what they often claim their opponents represent. That’s the American way!
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 to discuss the issues confronting our community and Central Illinois.