Rud Browne’s campaign committee mailed a negative campaign post card very late in the game - arriving at my residence on Friday - four days before the election on Tuesday. This late mailing makes it impossible for his three Democratic Party opponents - Alex Ramel, Debra Lekanoff and Tom Pasma - to respond. This is the definition of a smear in an election campaign.
The large post card compares all four Democratic candidates for the 40th District House seat being vacated by retiring Kris Lytton. They are compared on six criteria that he has chosen and, of course, he appears to be the best of all the candidates, or a close 2nd, on all six benchmarks. For instance, one gauge lists the number of women who have endorsed the candidates. Since Browne has been specifically targeting women, his “lead” in this category makes sense. The real question is: Since one of the candidates is a woman, why does this matter? He asks about the other candidate’s longevity in the district. It is a useless criteria, affected by the age of the candidate and the gerrymandering of the district’s boundaries. The variable district boundaries also impacts his questioning of contributions from outside the district. Browne has fewer outside donations but this could be because he is wealthier than any of the candidates and can donate generously to his own campaign. As he has.
The most important issue in all this is that Browne waited until the other candidates would not be able to respond before insinuating “problems.” Because according to the July 16 date on the card, Browne has been sitting on this for at least two weeks. I think the real question here is twofold: Which of the four asked us, just last November, to elect him to the Whatcom County Council for the next four years? And who, two months after starting his term of office, announced he was running for state office? Rud Browne. Which makes him come across as a political opportunist. How do we know he will serve out his term in Olympia? Or focus on his job there if he is elected? He has violated every promise he made in his County Council campaign last fall.
Friday afternoon, I contacted the other three candidates to see if they wanted to comment on this mailer. I am able to respond to Browne’s card with this article and want to give voice to the other candidates concerns. We have four good Democratic Party choices and any one of them would be a good representative. The other three candidates have been promoting their views on issues, intentions if elected, personal qualities, and explanations as to why they are running.
In a phone conversation I had with Alex Ramel, he said, “I believe as Democrats that we can either invite people into the party to encourage people who haven’t always participated in the past to be leaders, or we can shame them for not voting. But we cannot do both.”
Tom Pasma noted that he has indeed filed a personal financial statement. The post card contends he has not. Tom has also run a very positive campaign, because that is the kind of person he is.
On Saturday morning, I talked with Debra Lekanoff and asked her thoughts on the campaign and this mailer. She provided a statement that spoke to some of what Browne was trying to pass on as fact.
“As a Native American woman, I am proud to be supported by tribal nations from the great state of Washington and sister tribes from across the country. It is a gift to have the confidence of so many people who have guided me throughout my life, and allowed me to be a champion for the environment, education, and dental healthcare over the last 20 years.
“During this campaign I have also been surrounded by amazing women, from my staff and Representative Kris Lytton, to the incredible women’s groups like Emily’s List, Win with Women, the Orcas Women’s Coalition, and Mom’s Demand Action, to all of you who I have met at the doors and at forums. I am honored to represent you and work for you!
“Running for the 40th is a privilege. Before I even filed the paperwork, we agreed that we would run this campaign with the utmost respect for our fellow candidates, ensure that our practices are ethical, and that we follow the rules put forth by Washington state. I am proud to say that we have not wavered from our commitment, and I am thankful to be running alongside candidates like Alex and Tom who have run respectful campaigns focused on the issues.”
All three of these candidates have run positive campaigns. All three were going out early this Saturday morning to meet voters in the 40th District. In my article of July 20 with voting recommendations, I noted good qualities about all four candidates. However, Browne has shown his tendency to be a bully and to be divisive when it suits his ambitions. Because of that, I would narrow my recommendation to any of the other three to represent the 40th District in Olympia. If we want more civil elections and more good people running for public office, let’s not reward candidates who go negative.