Photo by Sam Hodgson
Myrtle Cole celebrates her special election victory.
This morning a supporter of Dwayne Crenshaw, who lost the District 4 City Council election Tuesday night, said he was done.
The past 30 days in #D4 is leaving me feeling sick. There’s got to be a better way to elect our public officials.
— Benjamin Katz (@MeanestBossEver) May 22, 2013
You could chalk up Katz’s dissatisfaction to the fact that his favored candidate lost. But the grossness that emanated from the campaign affected the winner, Myrtle Cole, too.
“This was almost like hell week, but for five months,” Cole said in her victory speech to supporters.
We’ve written about why the campaign got so negative: Outside groups spent lots of money, few people showed up to vote and the two Democratic candidates needed to find ways to distinguish themselves.
But it’s worth taking stock of the viciousness and voluminous ways groups tried to mislead voters or attack the candidates’ characters.
• A shadowy PAC called San Diego Voters for Progress and Reform sent an intentionally false mailer dubiously attacking Cole for an Ethics Commission fine. The PAC took advantage of a loophole in financial reporting rules and didn’t list its donors. Though the mailer was sent in March, we still don’t know who paid for it. Not only that, but the PAC used a facsimile of the city’s seal to make its mailer look like an official letter.
• Before the primary, community newspaper Voice & Viewpoint wrote an editorial saying Crenshaw wasn’t qualified for the seat in part because he’s gay.
• The conservative Lincoln Club of San Diego County sent a mailer repeating the claim we already debunked about Cole’s ethics fine.
• The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council implied in a mailer that Crenshaw took money from a neighborhood organization to spend on himself. In fact, he sued the organization claiming he was fired for being gay and received a legal settlement.
• Cole falsely accused Crenshaw of being involved in a crack cocaine deal two decades ago. Even worse, the police officer Cole quoted to support her claim said he was taken out of context when the allegation first surfaced 10 years ago.
• More than $630,000 was spent on the race and, according to the current tally, fewer than 25,000 people voted in the primary and runoff combined. That’s more than $25 per vote. All the outside money prompted a local political consultant to call the race “bought.”
Doug Porter, who edits the liberal website San Diego Free Press, said he stopped covering the race because it had gotten so ugly.
“I can’t even hold my nose and get near this sh*t,” Porter wrote.
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