Mud Slinging Serves No Purpose

Here’s a rule of thumb in politics: Never anger anyone you don’t need to alienate for a good reason. The election campaign variant is: Never engage in last-minute, desperation tactics such as mud slinging unless there’s a chance it could turn the tide and win an election for you.

Glen Gainer apparently doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy. Gainer, who’s West Virginia’s state auditor, is running as a Democrat for a House of Representatives seat from the First Congressional District. He’s so far behind Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., that national analysts haven’t paid any attention to the race for months.

McKinley has run an excellent campaign, focused on the issues and his record in defending West Virginia against President Barack Obama’s anti-coal campaign. I am not aware of an unkind word spoken by McKinley against his opponent.

But with less than two weeks before the election, Gainer has gone negative. That’s polite language for mud slinging, attacking McKinley personally as well as politically.

I know of no foundation whatsoever for Gainer’s attacks. They are vague, non-specific allegations.

Gainer has no chance of winning. By most accounts, he has not campaigned much in critical areas of the First District. He doesn’t have much money to spend on advertising. Get-out-the-vote campaigns such as Democrats frequently use will be of little or no value in this situation. Many voters in his own party are so angry at Obama that getting them out to vote may just pad McKinley’s numbers.

In terms of popularity, McKinley clearly has an edge in First District counties. In the 2012 election, McKinley garnered 133,809 votes to be re-elected. That same year, with Gainer running for re-election as auditor, he netted just 125,054 votes in the First District (overall, he beat Republican Larry Faircloth, 355,610-263,959).

Comparing apples to oranges, you say? McKinley was running for Congress while Gainer was running for auditor in 2012, you point out?

Precisely. Many First District voters may think Gainer is a perfectly good auditor. But do they want him in Congress, supporting his party’s president in the assault on West Virginia?


So Gainer’s mud slinging isn’t going to win the election for him. Why do it, then?

In an attempt to gain a few more votes so his losing percentage isn’t as bad as Natalie Tennant’s, perhaps?

Tennant also is going down in flames in her race against Rep. Shelley Capito for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Both she and Gainer will have to think about what they want to do in 2016. Running for governor, maybe?

We’ll see.

  • ??

Speaking of Tennant, she sometimes seems to think West Virginia voters are among the most gullible on the planet.

Take her reaction to her latest mistake on Wednesday.

As we have reported, Tennant led a group of about 30 supporters on a march to the Kanawha County courthouse, on the first day of early voting. Within feet of the voter registration office door, she stopped and addressed the group.

Any sort of political campaigning on courthouse property during early voting is banned by state law. Tennant’s own guidelines for county election officials stress that.

Her response when asked about the infraction was that she wasn’t electioneering as the law defines it. She was just thanking her supporters, Tennant claims.

We have an old saying in West Virginia:?If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – even if it’s just thanking its friends for going to the polls with it – it’s probably a duck.

If?Tennant is hoping to lessen her margin of defeat with such stunts, perhaps to set herself up for either re-election or for another post, it’s all going to backfire against her. Videotape of the state’s chief election officer breaking an election law may be the only thing her political opponents in the future need to win.

Myer can be reached at mmyer@ theintelligencer.net.


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