It’s barely August, and many voters aren’t really focused on candidates and issues yet. But the interests who want to sway those voters already are hard at work, judging by a mysterious “poll” that has injected an atmosphere of negativity into a closely watched legislative race.
Oregon Senate District 3, which includes Ashland, long has been a swing district, fiercely contested by Republicans and Democrats.
This year, with Republican Sen. Alan DeBoer stepping down, District 3 is more important than ever, because if the Democrats can snatch it back, it could give them a supermajority of 18 seats, allowing them to raise taxes without Republican votes.
District 3 races have a history of attracting money from state party organizations and others who have launched attack ads, sometimes without the approval or even knowledge of the candidates they were trying to help.
This time, the negativity came from a “poll” that leveled attacks on both candidates, Democrat Jeff Golden and Republican Jessica Gomez. District residents reported getting calls asking them which candidate they preferred, and then asking them if they knew about alleged misconduct or financial irregularities supposedly attached to that candidate. The odd thing was that both Golden and Gomez were attacked.
Both candidates’ campaigns say they weren’t responsible.
It’s hard to know what the motivation is for this tactic. But the best defense against it is for voters to listen to the candidates themselves, not negative ads or telephone calls, and to focus on the issues, not questionable personal attacks.