Let’s not and say we did.
If I had a dollar for every time I said that to some over-enthusiastic campaign worker for my candidate or some other one with some wild idea to screw with the other side….
Perhaps GOP Congressman Scott Taylor should have used the phrase, or my other favorite: Don’t do anything you don’t want to read about in the newspaper.
Now we are being subjected to a daily barrage of stories about how the Second District representative’s campaign staff circulated the petitions to get independent challenger Shaun Brown on the November ballot. After Brown lost the Democratic nomination and went away mad, it was logical to keep her candidacy alive as a thorn in the side of Democratic nominee Elaine Luria.
Some Taylor fan passed Brown’s petitions around the office of fellow Republican and Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle gathering a large number of signatures, earning this story in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.
My personal practice has always been to sign most candidates’ petitions, if I’m a qualified voter in the correct district. It is not a pledge to vote for that person. I’ve signed for many a Democrat, independent or Green. Having been the person circulating the petitions I know it is a hard process, and as a believer in our election system I support people’s efforts to run.
There is also a long history of both parties’ finding and encouraging independent candidates intended to split the opponent’s vote. Everybody does it, but usually with plausible deniability. Well, that’s out the window in this case.
If the petitions for Luria were signed by enough properly-registered voters in that district, even if they were active Republicans, serving sheriff’s deputies, or known cranks, she might remain on the ballot. If not one actual Democrat signed, it matters not.
If those circulating the petitions witnessed and attested to the signatures of false names, or the names of deceased persons, or filled in names themselves, they should face the full consequences under the law – which are considerable. Doing that will have brought dishonor on themselves, their candidate and the process itself.
Whether all of this will hurt Taylor and boost Luria come November is impossible to say now, but it is the kind of distraction which is never good for any campaign. At some point well before this got out of hand somebody in authority should have sat back, laughed, and said – let’s not actually do this, folks. And if the decision was to go forward anyway, the mantra should have been – break absolutely no rules and smile and deny nothing when caught.