Suppose you are in a bitter campaign against candidate X, and you want to "go negative", but X has not done anything to really anger the public. But if X has some political relationship with unpopular poltician Y, you can link X to Y, in the hope that some of the animosity toward Y will rub-off on X.
Does this sound familiar? Older readers will recall that Richard Nixon linked his Democratic opponent in the 1950 senatorial race (Helen Gahagan Douglas) to leftist NY Congressman Vito Marcantonio. Similarly, in 2008 Democrats ran against George W Bush, instead of Republican nominee John McCain.
Shortly before the Feb. 15 primary for Milwaukee County Executive this year, an Internet ad likened County Board Chairman Lee Holloway to Japanese film monster Godzilla---- but wait, that was a Holloway ad. Not a brilliant gambit, as it turned out.
At the same time, the three challengers for the State Supreme Court were really running against Justice Gableman, although it was Prosser on the ballot. Since the primary, the surviving challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg, has been linking Prosser to Governor Scott Walker. (Wisconsin taxpayers are paying $600,00 for both sides of this contest. We also paid $400,000 for the primary.)
Meanwhile, County Executive candidate Chris Abele has been tying his opponent, Jeff Stone, to Walker too. Stone could have countered this strategy by voting against the Walker budget (which abolished most public employee bargaining rights), but he stuck with his Governor, lending credence to the link.
In a world of surrogate motherhood, why not surrogate candidacies? In a non-partisan race, surrogacy can replace party labels as a short-cut to pigeon-holing a candidate as a liberal or conservative. Just look at who he is like!
I don't like this tactic, but then I don't like smears or mud-slinging at all. I am challenging an incumbent in the April 5 election, but I won't say anything bad about my opponent, even if he is another Huey Long.