Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quick Hitters Pt 1: Dalto Up to His Dirty Tricks Again

[There are all kinds of interesting things going on right now, as I suppose you would expect in the height of what veteran pols call "the silly season." So I'll make a departure from my typically verbose style and give you more links and facts, less solipsistic analysis in a series of quick-hitter posts. Here's the first one...]

We've gotten a lot of mileage out of the antics of Billy Dalto, and just when we thought things might have quieted down a bit between he and Brian Clem, up pops Steve Law at the S-J to bring us back to reality:
Randy Fishfader, who has a Clem lawn sign in her front yard, was surprised to get Dalto's mailer using a years-old quote from her praising the representative. It identified her as the chapter chairwoman of Salem-Keizer Stand for Children, a post she last held in 2003.

"I was really stunned and shocked to see my name being used," Fishfader said. "I thought it was purposely misleading and unethical."

Gary Sackley, a Waldo Middle School counselor and a leader of the Salem Education Association, also was quoted in the mailing, again saying positive things about Dalto. The quote was lifted from a letter he sent to multiple candidates in 2004 and 2006.

"This is the last line of a form letter," Sackley said. "The line before it indicated that we decided to support Brian Clem."

Dalto said he did nothing wrong because he didn't claim that the groups endorsed him.

"If people are writing to public officials and expressing appreciation or any kind of positive feedback, I think it's entirely fair that the public gets to hear about that," he said. "You can't take away the positive things you say about somebody just because it's a partisan election."

Retired state corrections officer John Theodore, a Republican who voted for Dalto the past two times he was up for election, said he is rethinking his vote in light of the brochure and the phone calls he got about the controversy.

"To me, it was like forgery," Theodore said of the quotes used by Dalto. "I'll probably be voting for Brian Clem after this sleazy deal, where he tried to co-opt the endorsement for these two organizations."
I've never been a campaign flack so I can't say for certain, but I'd wager that nothing makes one cringe more at a news report than the base-abandoner: "I voted for [your guy] twice, but now I'm thinking of voting for [the other guy] because of these dirty tricks." Ouch.

One final thought--you know how Oregon doesn't have any real competitive federal or statewide races this year? That's made it hard to determine just how much of an effect the national scene is having on local politics. But one sure sign that being a Republican loyalist is toxic in the Beaver State, is when those loyalists start trumpeting how "independent" and "crossover-friendly" they are--apparently, even when they're actually not. We have Dalto's try here, and Monday Benton County cheese TA Barnhart exposed Robin Brown's "some of my best supporters are [not really] Democrats!" direct mail gambit. Since that's obviously not a selling point with the conservative base, what it means is that Republicans realize there isn't enough of a reliable one anymore to sustain them through another election, and they have to branch out or die.
Even if they have to use fake limbs to do it.