(This is serious business, and I hope those behind these despicable, personal threats are found and prosecuted -- promoted by code)
I've half-jokingly said in the past that all's fair in love, war, and politics. This isn't exactly true. There are lines that shouldn't be crossed, ever. For as much as progressives push for campaigns which heighten the level of debate and dialogue, there are those who reach low in order to smear candidates. For most, smears are expected. Some ignore the smears, and some combat them. However, when those who wade through filth go from spreading smears to making threats against a candidate's life, the whole of the political community should condemn and support appropriate action to hold these people accountable.
Pat Edmonson's campaign recently sent out an e-mail revealing that Edmonson has been receiving hate emails containing racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric. These e-mails have included threats to her physical well being. The seriousness of these threats can not be understated. The campaign is taking them seriously, and has hired a security detail to travel with Edmonson.
Conner Morris, Communications Director for Edmonson, wrote the reason for these attacks is that:
Pat Edmonson wakes up every day ready to fight for Virginia's most vulnerable citizens. Since beginning this campaign, Pat has spoken openly about issues that matter to Virginians, even when it was not easy or politically expedient to do so. Pat continues this today as she is under vicious personal attack.
Those responsible for the attacks and threats have identified themselves as Jody Wagner supporters, likely meaning that these attacks are from a person or persons who are activists in the political community of Virginia. The evidence of this can be readily seen on a blog featuring similar rhetoric. The posts on http://stoppatedmonson.blogspot.com are reprehensible and represent the worst of Virginia politics.
Jody Wagner released the following statement regarding these attacks and threats:
Virginians today are concerned about the security of their job, the state of the economy, and their ability to provide quality health care for their kids. Anything that takes away from the dialogue of how we can better provide for Virginia families is inappropriate. Negative and personal attacks have no place in this race.
The Edmonson campaign is close to identifying those involved, and will seek to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Their efforts to bring these people to justice should be supported by all candidates, activists, and elected officials alike. No one should believe that they can make slanderous comments and threats against anyone with no expectation of accountability.
Pat Edmonson's statement on this:
As Virginians, we must stand together against forces of hate and division. As Democrats, we should simply know better. I was disheartened to learn that the internet stalkers who have been threatening and harassing me and my family are self identified Jody Wagner supporters. I am thankful, however, that Jody has stepped forward and issued a statement condemning personal attacks. I will go a step further to address this issue directly, and say with absolute candor that these type of attacks are what we - as Democrats - are supposed to be fighting against. Sexism, Racism, Homophobia - we must work together to stamp out this type of hate in our political discourse.
As two women competing for the Democratic Party's nomination for Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is my hope that Jody and I can compete based upon our records and our experience. These are the things that matter relative to this race. I am confident that I have the record and experience that will speak to more Virginians. I also hope that Jody's supporters will follow her lead, and that they will support their candidate based upon issues and not prejudices.
Politics should be about ideas and the future. Fear-mongering and personal attacks have no place in politics or in Virginia. We should condemn any and all attacks that are rooted in hate and aim to intimidate.
Many political bloggers throughout Virginia are condemning these attacks, including Vivian Paige, Ian Jordon, and Lowell Feld. I join with them in stating that there is not place in Virginia politics for this sort of garbage. As Democrats and progressives, we should be better than that.