Fighting the smears and personal attacks

(This is serious business, and I hope those behind these despicable, personal threats are found and prosecuted -- promoted by code)

Pat EdmonsonI'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.

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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.

Mike Signer just released a statement regarding this as well:

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.

[X-Posted from Virginia Beach Progressives]

Cheap Swipe at Wagner

The threats and libels are abhorrent. Apparently this is the season that nut trees are in bloom. There are reports elsewhere of harrassment and threatening emails and calls received threatening bodily harm along with disturbances over tax increases etc. As someone has pointed out, apparently people losing their homes and jobs has raised the agitation level across the board.

But the recrimination against Wagner supporters without calling at least one out can only be interpreted as an effort at smear by association. Even the person does support Jody, where's the connection to Jody?

Possible Wagner supporters...

I don't think Jody asked that the e-mails and posts be written, but I think it's important people realize that these attacks aren't coming from people without political motive. These aren't just crazies on the sidelines. They are likely activists that we all know.

No shown connection to Jody Wagner supporters...

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.

I don't disagree with your characterization of the content of the blogspot blog you refer to, but have I missed something? The author of this blog has given no indication of supporting Jody Wagner. Heck, for all we can tell, maybe that nutjob supports Mike Signer or Jon Bowerbank. Or is just an unaffiliated crank. Whoever the nutjob is who is doing the blog that you cite has given no indication of who he or she actually supports.

Is there any OTHER blog post out there that calls Pat or her husband names? One that combines the two elements that you claim -- slurs against Pat's sexuality or her husband and an expression of support for Jody Wagner? If not, then your contention is unsupported and should be withdrawn. About a week ago I said something unkind about her picture, mentioning that most people to whom I have shown the picture do not think that it projects a professional image. (See comments to http://www.bluecommonwealth.com/node/6122 ). This was not meant to reflect on any personal characteristic other than her political judgment in choosing such an odd campaign picture. I identified myself as a Wagner supporter when I did so, complying with this blog's policy of identifying one's biases. I neither know nor care about Pat's sexuality, and I don't even know who her husband is. In any event, an Edmonson supporter jumped on my comment, alleging that I spoke for or represented the Wagner campaign, and that this was proof that Jody's campaign was getting down in the gutter (both wrong). Is that what you are referring to as the link between sexual and racial slurs and Wagner supporters? If so, then campaign paranoia is truly running rampant down there. Or else someone is just trying to generate some free blog action for Pat.

And Joel, your last comment -- that Jody didn't ask "that the e-mails and posts be written," but that it is "important people realize that these attacks aren't coming from people without political motive" -- is another way of saying, "I have no evidence to to prove a connection, but that's not going to stop me from insinuating what I can't prove."

I assume that someone with more computer savvy than I possess could trace back the IP address on the stoppatedmonson.blogspot,com bog and find out who is doing it. And for what it is worth, it isn't me.

If this is a genuine threat

then it needs to be taken seriously. If it isn't, then it kind of reminds me of the "B Girl" incident. I'm a Jody supporter and of course I condemn this kind of activity. Two questions come to mind:

1. Wouldn't a Jody Wagner supporter be the least likely to make these threats? I mean, by all accounts it appears that Jody is ahead in the race. It's somewhat like if John McCain had picked on Duncan Hunter during last year's primary.

2. Wouldn't the person(s) making the threats have the most to gain by claiming to be a Wagner supporter?

I have no clue...

...as to why anyone would attack a candidate that, by any current measure, is trailing. It makes no sense to me.

It's the combination of e-mails + blog posts. The campaign is faily certain that they originate from the same persons. It's the e-mails that claim those persons are Wagner supporters, either directly or indirectly.

The campaign is taking legal action to have the IP address(es) of the blogger(s) released.

Whoever is doing that site is not a Democrat

I have gone over and read the Stop Pat Edmondson blog. For what it's worth, why are any of us assuming it s a Jody Wagner supporter or any Democrat? Judging by the language of the writer, whoever is doing that site is obssessed with sexual language - the use of words like "whore," "slut," etc. There is one post where the writers talks about serpents and evil, etc.

That use of language is very atypical of a Democrat or even a mainstream Republican. I would venture a guess that whoever is doing this is precisely some unhinged individual not connected to any party. But if they are, it certainly wouldn't be the Democratic Party.

In fact, this is a twofer. Not only does it hurt Pat Edmondson but it also hurts Jody Wagner. This has to be a major embarrassment. Wagner has had to issue a statement decrying it. Why would anybody think for a moment that somebody supporting her would think this was helpful, especially in a Democratic primary? Have some of Wagner's supporters somehow gotten the impression that Democrats are rabidly homophobic, racists, and misogynists, who will be influenced to vote against Edmondson based on those diatribes?

Look at the posts: racism, sexism, homophobia. Honestly, does that sound like our party?

I would hope not...

I really, really, would hope not. Could this be a Republican attack? Maybe. But is anyone on the right paying attention to the Dem LG primary to mount such an assault? It doesn't seem likely. I know some tempers flared over Edmonson throwing her hat into the ring. Sometimes anger is used to create blogs, send e-mails, and make threats. It's sad, but true.

The whole association to Wagner is not something pulled out of thin air. It's a fact that those sending e-mails self-identified as Wagner supporters. It's certainly possible they are trying to weaken Wagner by doing so, but the fact that they identified themselves is a fact. Whether it's true is questionable.

I personally hope that these people are caught, and that they aren't Democrats at all.