Now that the rough and tumble of the primaries has been completed (and before the General election campaign is fully geared up), it’s time to look back and understand some of the things that just happened and what the voters need to know about it.
First, we doubt anyone reasonable was NOT appalled at the nastiness of some of the campaigning this time around. This was especially true at the Senatorial level and there is little doubt that the excesses of mudslinging coming from the Dewhurst campaign- in the end- actually backlashed to a point of adding significantly to his resounding defeat. It is time to for the voters to not only take note of- and reject- the mud slinger candidate, but also be aware of the merchants of the mud, the professional political consultants that are willing to enthusiastically supply the mud- and the lack of ethics- for the right price.
The is one political consulting firm’s name that pops up time and again associated with the dirtiest campaigns across Texas- and that is Murphy Turner Associates. Now, they re a very LARGE consulting outfit and by no means is every- or even most- campaigns they are involved in become mudfests. While they are a standard for Joe Strauss and other ‘Powers That Be’ types, some very good and decent people have used them to run immaculately clean campaigns, including Cindy Burkett and Roger Burns. BUT…it is a very rare mudslinging piece of nastiness that goes on in Texas that they are NOT a primary mudslinger. They have become renowned for sinking to whatever level a candidate will go- and doing so with gusto. They ran a particularly nasty campaign for ‘Tuffy’ Hamilton against James White, and a misleading one for Bob Dry against Angela Tucker.
The firm itself would respond that they are only doing as instructed; this is akin to the ‘Nuremberg defense’ ; “I was only following orders”. the political class KNOWS their reputation and when they ARE asked to go negative and beyond the bounds of ethical conduct, they do so with gusto.
It is time to change the dynamic. First, the voters need to reject candidates that go super negative, with marginal ethics need to be voted down consistently. Secondly, light needs to be shined on those that eagerly facilitate such campaign, like Murphy-Turner. And those that vet candidates- individuals and groups- need to start considering such as a factor in their determinations. Because a candidate that uses consulting groups that are mud merchants- whether they use that bottom-feeding skill set or not- are supporting those that do. Behavior will only improve when it becomes too costly to misbehave. Groups like Murphy Turner have a right to function- even unethically- as long as they are within the law; the voters have an equal right to weigh their use in their ballot considerations.