Thursday, November 09, 2000

Fighting dirty


Mud catchers beat slingers

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        The harder they hit, the harder they fell. In Tuesday's election, the local TV ad campaigns that went the furthest in attacking the opposition — sometimes stepping over the boundary from truth to distortion — were among the most ineffective.

        In fact, the more attack ads thrown at a candidate, the better his or her chances of winning.

        • The multimillion-dollar campaign led by Ohio business executives and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick laid an egg. The ads accused her of selling her vote in court cases to campaign contributors. She was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote.

        • The Hamilton County Republican Party spent about $200,000 to save County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus with its “Liberal Portune” ad campaign. They made dubious claims that Cincinnati Councilman Todd Portune supported gay marriage and letting criminals turn in guns for sneakers and not face jail time. Mr. Portune won.

        • An Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee ad against Democrat Steve Driehaus in the 33rd Ohio House District accused Mr. Driehaus falsely of advocating an income tax increase. Mr. Driehaus won with 56 percent of the vote.

        The sponsors of attack ads went a bit too far, said Xavier University political scientist Gene Beaupre. “There's a point in this kind of advertising where you go from creating an enemy to creating a victim,” he said. “When you turn the opposition into a victim, it will jump back and bite you.”

        E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com.

       

       



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