I had intended to write about the second half of our family’s summer vacation, discussing the great time we had in New England, and sharing where we feel anyone considering such a trip might want to visit.
Unfortunately, I am sitting here watching the second debate for Governor of Indiana, and the entire performance forces me to say some things about that race now, and to leave the summer vacation discussion for later.
Certainly, I understand that politics is a tough business, and that anyone who thinks it’s a non-contact sport just doesn’t understand the game. However, the negativity slung in the Governor’s race this year is the worst I’ve ever seen in politics, and it sickens me, given how important it is for all of us to have a full discussion of the issues this year.
You’d probably have to be living in a cave not to understand what and whom I am talking about. It is the vicious, nearly slanderous attacks from the Kernan campaign on the integrity of the Republican candidate for Governor, Mitch Daniels. Because Mr. Daniels has been leading in statewide polls, the Kernan campaign has decided it must attempt to destroy the personal reputation of Mr. Daniels in order to have any chance to win. So they have undertaken a multi-million dollar campaign of slurs, distortions and lies about Mitch Daniels that is unprecedented in Hoosier politics, insults the intelligence of our citizens and voters, and demeans the entire political process.
Ironically, the Kernan campaign, early on, made a big point of calling for a clean race. Mitch Daniels ran that clean campaign; sadly, Joe Kernan has not.
Should you believe that it is just the words of a Republican state legislator complaining about this situation, I turn your attention to the unanimous outrage of nearly every editorial board of every newspaper in this state in assessing the negative advertising of the Kernan campaign. Each paper calls the ads either false, untrue, distorted, fictitious, or just outright lies. Most call for an end to the ads, and for a return to a discussion of the issues. But that won’t happen.
Why? Because statistics show that negative, misleading ads that smear your opponents’ good name seem, shamefully, to work. If this can get you elected, why not do it, no matter what the long term damage to the state and the process.
And again, why is this happening in the first place? Why does Governor Kernan feel he has to resort to these tactics to win? Because Mitch Daniels was winning in every state poll taken as of Labor Day with his positive message of change. He wasn’t personally attacking Joe Kernan. He was pointing out what had gone wrong in our state and what was needed to change it. He was staying on the issues, saying, correctly, that it wasn’t bad people who had gotten us into this situation, but simply bad governing.
And Mitch Daniels had been traveling the state of Indiana for 16 months, by RV, going places no Governor had ever gone in this State before, and getting the best lesson about a State that any gubernatorial candidate has ever received. People have been responding to this type of campaigning in a way we haven’t seen before. As a result, the unprecedented barrage of negative, dirty ads has been unleashed to stop the Daniels train in its tracks.
I know Joe Kernan from working with him closely for six and a half years while he was Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor is the formal head of the State Senate, and usually gavels us into Session, and often presides over our proceedings. He also can cast the tie vote in case the Senate deadlocks on a bill. I never thought Joe would resort to these types of campaign tactics, a win at all costs approach that demeans both him personally and the political process. It also demeans a good man in Mitch Daniels who has brought a clean, positive style of campaigning to Indiana that one can only pray catches on in the future.
Whatever the outcome on November 2nd in the race for Governor, we can rest assured that our state has reached a new low in campaign tactics, and that we cannot let this occur ever again.
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