This is the time of the year where the political candidates who are trailing their opponents in the polls realize that unless they start producing negative campaign pieces then they will probably lose in the upcoming election.
I don’t enjoy watching these commercials, especially when the person being attacked is someone I know and respect and when I know, based on my experience as a Legislator, that the subject matter being used in the attack is very much targeted in a dishonest and deceptive manner.
I have seen my share of inappropriate and disgusting political attacks over the years but one of the most deceptive and disingenuous commercials that I have ever seen have been those targeting State Senator Todd Lamb. Lamb is campaigning for Lieutenant Governor and has been polling ahead of his opponent. I have served with Senator Lamb as a fellow member of Edmond’s legislative delegation and have always been impressed with his character which is a sentiment that I believe is shared by his colleagues of both parties with whom he has worked with in the Legislature.
A few days ago, Lamb’s opponent started running a set of incredibly deceptive commercials that are a direct assault on Lamb’s character. The commercials fault Lamb for his conference committee vote for a bill which put into law a process enabling for the transition of the state Medical Examiner’s office to another location.
A majority of Legislators, including Lamb’s opponent, also voted for the bill because they had no reason to believe that there was anything unusual about the legislation. After the Legislature adjourned there were some questions raised about the individual who might have been placed in charge of the transition. These questions are being looked into by the appropriate authorities but no language designating the identity of the transition coordinator was in the bill and legislators had little way of knowing any of these details at the time of their vote.
Lamb’s opponent has tried to construe Lamb’s vote to make it appear as if Lamb was a participant in trying to do something inappropriate. Lamb’s opponent does not reveal that he also voted for this same bill and he does not tell the public that any impropriety tied to this matter was not in the bill and legislators would have not had any way of knowing of any proposed impropriety.
Also, coming under heavy attack from a desperate opponent is former House District 31 resident Janet Barresi who is campaigning for State Superintendent of Education. Barresi has been a leader in the effort to provide educational opportunities to Oklahoma students and in that role has served as an appointee of the House of Representatives as the Chair of the Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) task force. Based on my familiarity with the issues, I believe the commercials targeting Mrs. Barresi’s efforts to better education have been very unfair.
Probably the most ironic and out-of-touch attack took place just two days after the House Government Modernization Committee heard testimony demonstrating the potential savings to the taxpayers through the implementation of the state’s IT consolidation effort. The opponent of State Representative Jason Nelson mailed a mailer attacking Nelson for supporting the consolidation proposal on the grounds that it “grew government”. The bill actually cuts millions of dollars from the state budget and was one of the rare proposals brought before the legislature which was designed to very much shrink the size of government.
I believe deceptive attacks like these are an admission by the attackers that they have little reason to give the people for voting for them and that they are willing to engage in dirty politics to achieve power.