Mudslinging clouds the issues during campaigns for governor, U.S. Senate

By Saba Long

During a recent campaign stop in Dahlonega, Gov. Nathan Deal opined, “If you see somebody turning purple, there’s something wrong with them. They are being starved from the truth.”

From the barrage of negative TV ads alone, Georgia voters should look like their diet consists solely of beets.

The mudslinging — often from outside organizations – came into question during the Atlanta Press Club debate on Oct. 26 with U.S. Senate candidates David Perdue and Michelle Nunn. Even from the candidates – for both U.S. Senate and Governor – the negative messaging has overwhelmed their campaigns.

David Perdue’s strategy – Michelle Nunn is synonymous with Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Nunn’s tactic – paint Perdue as a Mitt Romney-like, anti-women CEO.

Then there’s the gubernatorial race. With each appearance, Deal and Democrat Jason Carter lob harder and harder jabs, as they did during the WSB debate Oct. 26. Left hook – cronyism. Right jab – inexperience.

The differences are stark between the incumbent governor and the baby-faced Carter. What many thought would be an easy win for the incumbent governor to a competition worth paying attention to.

Deal’s lifelong political experience is evident during the debates, his comebacks swift and targeted. Meanwhile, Carter has, with each appearance, sharpened his presence.

While we’ve all been engrossed in these four candidates, two individuals fighting for primetime have often gone unnoticed – the Libertarian candidates Amanda Swafford and Dr. Andrew Hunt, running for Senate and governor respectively.

“But the third party candidates have no shot of winning,” you may say. If you keep voting with that mindset, you’ll continue to enable the GOP and Democrats.

Earlier today, Swafford posted the following on her campaign’s Facebook page: “I’ve received numerous emails asking me to drop out of the Senate race. I’ve been called selfish and some unsavory names. Let me be perfectly clear…it is not selfish to want to give people a real choice in elections. And if I were truly selfish…I would have been at home last night watching the World Series rather than at a debate where my opponents monopolized the time by trashing each other rather than discussing the real issues, which is what I was there for.”

These two have done the one thing the big four have deftly dodged – actually answer the questions posed to them.

It’s refreshing to hear Dr. Hunt state exactly what he wants to accomplish if elected.

Perhaps I’m just starved for the truth and a new approach to politicking and electing candidates. Regardless, we only have a few more days before part one of the election. Please take the time to learn about all the candidates.

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.

13 replies
  1. Jeff Kling says:

    It isn’t mud if it sticks. Since when is it political privilege to enter office in the red and 4 years later be 4M in the black. A pig field just doesn’t turn into Tara without any help.Report

    Reply
  2. Jeff Kling says:

    It isn’t mud if it sticks. Since when is it political privilege to enter office in the red and 4 years later be 4M in the black. A pig field just doesn’t turn into Tara without any help.Report

    Reply
  3. Baker Owens says:

    “clouds the issues” is a huge understatement. Neither the Senate nor Governor race have any focus on policy. It’s all about their backgrounds or lack thereof. Nothing on policy. It’s sick. But they do it because voters are in general idiots that will tune out if you start talking about policy. Keeping the voters eyeballs means mudslinging. I wish this were not the case.Report

    Reply
  4. Baker Owens says:

    “clouds the issues” is a huge understatement. Neither the Senate nor Governor race have any focus on policy. It’s all about their backgrounds or lack thereof. Nothing on policy. It’s sick. But they do it because voters are in general idiots that will tune out if you start talking about policy. Keeping the voters eyeballs means mudslinging. I wish this were not the case.Report

    Reply
  5. JWK says:

    My guess is that negative messaging becomes “overwhelming” when BOTH parties are doing it. Fox News has built their entire business model on it. (When was the last time you saw a Fox News correspondent in a war or conflict zone). 
    I kind of like it when the Dem’s “nut up” and ask the tough questions. The sound you hear from Deal and Perdue is crickets.Report

    Reply
  6. JWK says:

    My guess is that negative messaging becomes “overwhelming” when BOTH parties are doing it. Fox News has built their entire business model on it. (When was the last time you saw a Fox News correspondent in a war or conflict zone). 
    I kind of like it when the Dem’s “nut up” and ask the tough questions. The sound you hear from Deal and Perdue is crickets.Report

    Reply
  7. Burroughston Broch says:

    “David Perdue’s strategy – Michelle Nunn is synonymous with Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Nunn’s tactic – paint Perdue as a Mitt Romney-like, anti-women CEO.”
    Mudslinging is trying to cover your opponent with lies. Perdue’s strategy was successful because it was true. No matter how Nunn squirmed and twisted, she could not distance herself from Obama and his henchman Reid – particularly after Obama said the election was a referendum on his policies and Nunn said she would defer to Obama. It’s not mudslinging if it’s true. The voters recognized it and sent Nunn packing.
    On the other hand, I agree with you that Nunn’s characterization of Perdue was mudslinging, and the voters agreed with us and voted accordingly.Report

    Reply
  8. Burroughston Broch says:

    “David Perdue’s strategy – Michelle Nunn is synonymous with Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Nunn’s tactic – paint Perdue as a Mitt Romney-like, anti-women CEO.”
    Mudslinging is trying to cover your opponent with lies. Perdue’s strategy was successful because it was true. No matter how Nunn squirmed and twisted, she could not distance herself from Obama and his henchman Reid – particularly after Obama said the election was a referendum on his policies and Nunn said she would defer to Obama. It’s not mudslinging if it’s true. The voters recognized it and sent Nunn packing.
    On the other hand, I agree with you that Nunn’s characterization of Perdue was mudslinging, and the voters agreed with us and voted accordingly.Report

    Reply

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