For years, many people have said that it would be great if a campaign would be focused on issues and free from attack ads. The problem is that negative ads, letters that blast the opposition unfairly, and mud throwing does get people to vote and many times voters remember the barbs and not the issues.
Well, in southeastern Iowa this week, the plan backfired.
A letter was sent out from the state Republican party accusing State Representative Kurt Swaim (D-Bloomfield) of coddling to child sex abusers. The letter was based on the fact that Swaim was a court appointed public defender in a case where the defendant was convicted but spent only four days in jail. The letter said: "How did he get such a sweet deal? His public defender, Kurt Swaim, was paid $946.30 to get him back on the street." Probably the party would have made a big deal out the fact that Swaim wasn't doing his job defending the accused if he had received the maximum sentence.
Swaim's opponent in State House District 94, Kevin Wiskus was outraged at the letter sent out against his opponent. In a letter to Swaim and his wife made public this week, Wiskus apologized for the letter. "Though I had no knowledge of this vicious attack on you, I ask that you please accept my most sincere and humble apologies to you and your wife, Julie."
Following the release of the letter Wiskus said that he wanted to be a state representative, but not under those conditions. "As of today, I am disavowing any allegiance to the Republican Party of Iowa and declare myself an independent."
The legislature is dealing with a 51-49 split by party and the state senate is at 25-25. The races here are important for control and with the governor's seat open, Iowa's races could really get worse before they get better.
The Speaker of the House, Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) defended the mailing by saying all the state party was doing was reporting facts. "Republicans are not going to be punching bags." But interesting enough, Rants called on the national party to cease mailing against two others in the House. That mailing accused two Democratic incumbents for supporting instate tuition for children of illegal aliens. Neither of the incumbents were in the House when the vote was taken two years ago.
Look at these two quotes from Rants:
"I understand that some people don't like that piece. It makes them uncomfortable. Kurt has done some things his constituents should know about." and "Quite frankly, I wish they wouldn't have done that. That probably doesn't help matters, but that's not something that we produced. It's not something that we put out."
So in these three races that could tip the power in the State House, Republicans at one level or another have stuck their foot in their mouth. Maybe it's time for the voters to stick their foot in someone's backside.