Thursday, September 2, 2010

Surprise And Disappointment In House District 102

Not really. More like politics as usual in the election campaign for Texas House District 102 (representing part of north Dallas and part of Garland). Gromer Jeffers, in The Dallas Morning News, says challenger Stefani Carter makes a "misleading charge that state Rep. Carol Kent improperly took state housing reimbursements."

After the jump, Jeffers explains why the charge is misleading.

According to The Dallas Morning News Gromer Jeffers:

"[Carter] asked how Kent could justify taxpayer funded reimbursements while also receiv[ing] campaign reimbursements for the same expenditures. But Kent did not receive taxpayer reimbursements for her expenses. Like other lawmakers, she got the per diem, and she covered the rest of her costs through campaign funds."

The Republican and Democratic caucuses concur that there is nothing improper in the practice, followed not only by Kent but by most members of the legislature, as documented in this joint memo.

So, it would be a stretch for Stefani Carter to accuse Kent of unethical behavior, but Carter goes even further, accusing Kent of "stealing from taxpayers." Kent took offense, accusing Carter of making "false, negative attacks." Carter responded by saying it was with "surprise and disappointment" that she learned that Kent was asserting that Carter was being negative. Really? If falsely accusing your opponent of stealing isn't going negative, what is?

Stefani Carter's campaign doesn't have a candidate who matches up well with incumbent Carol Kent, so going negative to damage Kent's reputation is a predictable political tactic.

Back in the spring, The Dallas Morning News offered this assessment of Carter when it recommended her opponent Geoff Bailey in the GOP primary:

"Carter, 31, a Harvard-educated lawyer, seems less informed and willing to commit to specific strategies. Carter said cutting inefficiencies and tightening spending would help address the state's budget crisis and transportation needs but offered no long-term proposals."

Stefani Carter coasted to victory in the GOP primary with vague platitudes about "cutting inefficiencies". Nothing has happened since to suggest Stefani Carter today is any more informed or ready with solutions. In fact, the tactics Carter is using in the general election make me even less impressed with her candidacy. No solutions for the state budget crisis, for education, for community health programs, for transportation. Instead, she hopes to ride to victory in the general election by destroying the reputation of Carol Kent, a woman who has dedicated years of service to the PTA, to the Richardson ISD, and to the residents of District 102.

How does Stefani Carter, a political novice, practice dirty campaigning with such ease? Perhaps the answer lies in the professional campaign firm she has hired, Murphy Turner Associates. Murphy Turner is the winner of a political advertising award called the "Pollie Award" for "Best Use of Negative/Contrast." That might sound like something you'd keep to yourself, but Murphy Turner is proud of being recognized for negative campaigning. According to Carter's campaign finance reports filed with the state, she has paid Murphy Turner Associates $68,477.91 through June 17. When you make friends with alligators, don't act surprised when you end up in the swamp.

After starting the mud-slinging, Stefani Carter brashly tries to blame her opponent for her own sins, saying "It is these kinds of campaign shenanigans, personal attacks and dirty politics of which people are sick and tired going into November."

Stefani Carter must want this seat in the legislature representing north Dallas and part of Garland very badly to debase herself so to get it. I'm reminded of the scene in the outstanding play "A Man for All Seasons" where Sir Thomas More confronts Richard Rich, who had perjured himself and betrayed More in exchange for appointment to the office of Attorney General of Wales. Sir Thomas More says, "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

Why Stefani, ... for Garland?

P.S. To read previous blog items about Stefani Carter, look here.

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