In their latest efforts to gain advantage in the US Senate run-off, supporters and spokespeople for Cal and Elaine have dialed up the rhetoric and taken off the gloves. It's happening here at BlueNC and it's happening out "there" in the traditional media. A reader sent me a link to this article, asking what I thought about it.
Three reactions come to mind.
First, I can't imagine that either candidate would knowingly break the law. They are both honorable people. I'm certain Thomas Mills, writer of the letter in question and spokesman for Marshall, cleared the communication with his compliance people, which doesn't necessarily make it right.
Second, Both candidates would be wise to take tighter control of their campaigns. The reported text of Mills' letter to Cunningham supporters strikes me as divisive, though I haven't seen the letter in its entirety.
"Mr. Cunningham built an impressive campaign," Mills writes. "However, as I said, he has no credible path to victory in the runoff. Sec. Marshall will be the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina."
I have the same sentiments about the reported response of Jared Leopold, spokesman for Cunningham:
"These tactics raise serious questions about improper use of a candidate's public filings," said Jared Leopold, Cunningham's chief spokesman. "It's a shame that a 14-year statewide officeholder like Elaine Marshall would stoop to this."
Third, if both candidates are trying to suppress voter interest and turn out in the run-off, they're doing a good job.
I don't know the details of election law, but there sure appears to be plenty of ambiguity regarding the use of FEC reports. If Cal wants to accuse Elaine of breaking the law, he should direct his staff to file a formal complaint. Otherwise, this is politics as usual, and not very appealing at that. If Elaine wants to truly unite North Carolina Democrats behind her campaign, she should direct her staff to communicate with respect and grace to the good Democrats who support her opponent.