Candidates Hit New Low in Negative Campaigning

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack Mabley

When I ran for village president of Glenview, I didn't refer to "my opponent."

I used his name. I was respectful, not that I respected him very much.

But it was the proper thing to do, and I thought it was good strategy.

It was a close, contentious election, and my party was very much the underdog.

We won.

That was in the late '50s, and even in national elections television ads had little or no part in the campaigns.

If I were running for office today, even a state office, would I use the same strategy?

Yes. Because it can work, and because I have too much pride to sink into the gutter with attack ads. And because I would feel obligated to try to help restore issues and decency and common sense among the people seeking to run the state or the nation.

Glenn Poshard, the Democratic candidate for governor, has a controversial TV ad blaming his opponent, Secretary of State George Ryan, for an accident four years ago in which six children died.

Poshard says Ryan shouldn't have issued a license to the driver of the truck involved.

My colleague Bill Granger thinks this is the worst, ugliest, meanest ad in our brief history of attack ads.

Former Sen. Paul Simon, who supports Poshard, said the ad "went beyond even the standards for negative campaigning."

That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one. Standards? In negative campaigning?

I have no respect for the four Illinois candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate. They are bringing dirty campaigning to a new low. It's distressing that two of them will be governing and making laws next year.

They'll keep on doing the ads with the lame defense "my opponent started it."

But that doesn't mean we voters have to accept it without protest. …