8th Congressional race takes turn for the negative
With the primaries in the rearview mirror, both Democratic and Republican parties are bracing for a potentially expensive -- and caustic -- Minnesota 8th Congressional District general election. And a GOP-backed super PAC hasn't wasted any time f...
With the primaries in the rearview mirror, both Democratic and Republican parties are bracing for a potentially expensive - and caustic - Minnesota 8th Congressional District general election.
And a GOP-backed super PAC hasn't wasted any time firing the first shot.
An advertisement produced by the Congressional Leadership Fund and released Friday states Joe Radinovich wants to "raise our taxes, but refuses to pay his own bills."
"Radinovich voted for a two-billion-dollar tax hike hurting working families," the narrator claims. "But Radinovich was cited 30 times for not paying court fines, and after refusing to pay his bills, Radinovich was turned over to a collection agency eight times."
The court fines include multiple parking and speeding tickets going as far back as Dec. 27, 2006. In response to the politically-charged ad, the Radinovich campaign issued a news release stating:
"This type of negative campaigning, by outside groups unaccountable to the voters of northern Minnesota is precisely what turns people off about our political system and breeds the cynicism that makes it difficult to effectively govern," said Jordan Hagert, campaign spokesman in a news release.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is not affiliated with Pete Stauber or his campaign, says on its website it's dedicated to "protecting and strengthening the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
Airing just three days into the general election race, the advertisement could be a harbinger of what kind of tone voters can expect in the race.
"You can expect it to grow, you can expect more of it," said Cynthia Rugeley, a University of Minnesota-Duluth political science professor. "You can expect that everywhere you go."
Rugeley said these kinds of ads used to run on radio. Since the popularization of social media, the digital medium has become a common battleground for mudslinging and attack ads.
"So much money is going to be spent on this campaign, and not a whole lot of it is going to be spent on saying 'you know, we nominated a really great guy,'" Rugeley said. "You can expect a lot more of it, you can expect it to not be the kind of thing you'd want to introduce your children to."
Both Radinovich and Stauber have stated they will pursue clean campaigns. After Radinovich won the Democratic primary race, his campaign manager Jordan Hayward told the Duluth News Tribune "They (voters) see this political discussion going on, and it's childish and low-level playground name calling, and they want more of their leaders."
During a volunteer-appreciation barbeque on Tuesday, the Republican nominee said he would follow advice given to him by Vice President Mike Pence to not to impugn the integrity of his opponent.
"I think this country has had it with demonizing the loyal opposition and taking personal attacks," Stauber said.
In response to the advertisement, Stauber's campaign had this to say:
"As he has for the past 14 months, Pete remains laser focused on the issues that matter most to voters in the 8th district and he will continue meeting with Minnesotans every day so he can advocate on their behalf in Washington."
The Congressional Leadership Fund isn't the only out-of-state group to enter the 8th congressional district race. On Thursday morning, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it was adding Radinovich's race to their "Red to Blue" campaign. Along with the announcement comes access to funds, organization support, staff resources and candidate trainings from the super PAC.
Rugeley said negative ads aren't necessarily a bad thing. It's where they come from and the money used to produce them that can be suspect.
"They do serve a purpose. They say things a candidate isn't going to tell you," said Rugeley. "When it gets questionable to me is this huge influx of money that's not from the campaign."
With regards to the 30 citations claimed in the ad attacking Radinovich, the Minnesota Judicial Branch website has listed that Radinovich has five unpaid parking tickets, four worth $75 and a fifth worth $50 as of Aug. 17. The Duluth News Tribune reached out to the Radinovich campaign about the outstanding parking fines, and did not receive a response.
"Just wait to you get to the last two weeks of the campaign," said Rugeley, "this is such a contested ... such a high-profile race, people are not going to want to turn on their TV."