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August 25, 2006
For Cantwell, Dishonesty Is The Best Policy

Maria Cantwell faces a tough re-election bid against businessman and former Slade Gorton aide Mike McGavick this fall for her Senate seat. Rasmussen shows her clinging to a six-point lead in Washington against her challenger, down five points from June. That lead will probably shrink or disappear after a dishonest shell game her campaign played today in issuing a vicious personal attack on McGavick after he revealed a DUI from 1993:

U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick, in an unsolicited confession of "the very worst and most embarrassing things" of his personal and professional life, revealed Thursday he was charged with drunken driving 13 years ago. ...

He said that to his knowledge, no news media or political antagonists had been aware of the DUI charge. Past news reports have mentioned the Safeco layoffs and the 1988 attack ad that aired when Gorton ran against Democrat Mike Lowry.

McGavick revealed the drunk-driving incident in a far-ranging interview with the AP and on his campaign blog. The confession came unprompted, although he also voiced regrets over an attack ad he quarterbacked for Gorton and left running even after it proved inaccurate, an issue that had already been mentioned in the campaign. He said that he did not want the DUI to come out as a surprise, and that he revealed it now because he felt Washington voters knew him well enough now to put his past into perspective.

Without a doubt, McGavick did some political calculations before revealing this black mark on his record. A similar incident nearly sunk George Bush's campaign when it came out the week before the election, even though it had happened over twenty years previously. McGavick knows that opposition researchers spend tremendous amounts of energy looking for precisely this kind of material, hoarding the information until the moment when its release will do the most amount of harm. He wanted to defuse it by admitting it himself, and early enough so that the impact would dissipate long before the election.

Under these circumstances, an opposing candidate does best by refraining from comment, especially that which will be seen as personal attacks on a man for being honest. Maria Cantwell pledged to do just that -- but as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports, her campaign hastily arranged for the Democratic Party to attack McGavick as a drunk on her behalf:

Cantwell campaign spokeswoman Amanda Mahnke said the senator had no reaction and would not be commenting on McGavick's admissions.

The Cantwell campaign then, however, alerted the state Democratic Party about the P-I query. Party spokesman Kelly Steele telephoned to say, "From privatizing Social Security to drunk driving, it becomes clearer every day that Mike McGavick and George Bush are cut from the same cloth."

That is a contemptible attack, especially given the pledge from Cantwell's campaign. The Democrats are so desperate to attack George Bush that they have no compunction about tasteless and completely inapposite insults. George Bush has long been open about his problems with alcohol, and McGavick released the DUI himself. Neither of them promote drunk driving; the Democratic response makes it sound as if the two Republicans endorse it as public policy. It's a cheap shot, and the Cantwell campaign's involvement in it after pledging to remain silent shows the dishonest nature of Cantwell and her campaign.

Washington voters have a choice in November. They can elect an imperfect but honest man, or they can endorse the bitter, dishonest, and underhanded woman who currently occupies the seat. Let's hope that they make the right choice.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 25, 2006 6:18 PM

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» McGavick’s disclosure and Cantwell’s Reaction from Leaning Straight Up
McGavick made the unprecedented move of disclosing his own political skeleton, that being a 1993 DUI. My initial reaction was *YAWN*. A DUI 13 years ago is not a show stopper in a political world such as ours, with "Checkpoint Cynthia" McKinn... [Read More]

Tracked on August 28, 2006 12:01 PM


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