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Posts published in “Day: March 17, 2008”

Rossi’s hire

This isn't the kind of insider political blog focusing on the shiftings and doings of political operatives within campaigns, but every so often a name jumps out and demands some attention. One recent case was the Joe Trippi involvement in the Oregon 5th District Steve Marks campaign. Now another to the north - Scott Howell, in the campaign of Republican Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

He was there in Rossi's campaign in 2004, and that was a well-run campaign exceeding expectations (the conventional view being that Rossi would lose by a clear margin, and it turned into a photo-finish).

Howell has tracks over a bunch of campaigns around the country at this point, and as his site says his firm is in the upper ranks of Republican operations. He has some identification - and this is the key point for the Washington race - with really hardcore negative campaigning. Goldy on Horse's Ass argues "That Dino has hired Howell once again speaks volumes about Rossi and the the tone we can expect from his campaign."

Specifically? The Wikipedia article on him says, under the "controversies" section: "His early positive political advertisements, in which the candidates' children often appeared, gave way to his later aggressive campaigns, in which opponents have been compared to Osama Bin Laden. In October of 2006, Howell was revealed as the producer, with Terry Nelson, of the attack ad used against democratic Tennessee Senatorial candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. in which a white woman said that she had met Ford at a Playboy party. The ad concludes with the woman speaking to the camera and saying to Ford 'Call me.' Coverage of the controversy characterized Howell as a 'protegé' of Karl Rove."

Goldy adds, "Howell also produced an ad for Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn that accused Democrat Brad Carson of being soft on welfare while showing two black hands counting cash, and ran an ad in Virginia claiming Gov. Tim Kaine wouldn’t have used the death penalty against Hitler."

You could fairly call these among the slimiest campaign tactics of the last decade. Would it work in Washington? There's a good argument that it wouldn't; in the last cycle Evergreen voters seem to have reacted against hard-core negative campaigns. But we may all find out before long.