Thrasher Should Repudiate 527 Mailings or Risk Punishment at the Polls
John Thrasher was elected to the State Senate in 2009 to fill the remainder of the late Senator Jim King's final term. He's now seeking a full term, and what seemed like a snoozer of a GOP primary has become quite the fight. That's mostly because Perniciaro is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to wage a professional campaign. He's on television and has organized a real grassroots effort.
But what voters are most likely to know about Perniciaro is that he's a former Democrat who only recently switched parties. That's because so-called 527 groups, which supposedly act independently of the campaigns, have been mailing out blistering attack pieces against the challenger.
In this recent piece (pictured below - click to expand), it's implied that Perniciaro is essentially anti-American and has indirectly supported terrorism.
On the front it shows what looks like an ashamed solider covering his face or possibly wiping a tear away, while on the reverse includes an assortment of "facts" about Democrats and the war of terror.
Trying to tie all of this back to the unassuming dermatologist is more than a reach, it's very plainly misleading. It's not fair to Perniciaro, the voters or the Thrasher campaign, who supposedly have nothing directly to do with this group's activities.
While we've stated that we believe Senator Thrasher is the strongest candidate in this race, endorsing him in our August print edition, there should be no place in his campaign for this type of smear. John Thrasher is better than this.
The Thrasher campaign should specifically repudiate these over-the-top negative attacks from the Responsible Leadership Committee.
We admit that Perniciaro has a party registration problem. He was a registered Democrat for many years, abruptly switching parties right before he got into the Senate race. And it's a perfectly valid point to raise in a Republican primary.
What blunts the impact of it, somewhat, is that Perniciaro also has a history of donating exclusively to Republican campaigns and causes. Meanwhile, Senator Thrasher has actually given some donations to select Democrats, including a $500 check to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink in early 2009.
Of course, Thrasher later gave $500 to Bill McCollum.
Last year when Senator Thrasher won this seat in a hotly contested special election he was the target of personal attacks from an army of 527 groups funded by the trial lawyers. And while Thrasher was taking a pounding from those groups last year, his campaign was very vocal about it.
“John Thrasher is not about the politics of tearing people down; he is about building the community up," said Thrasher spokeswoman Sarah Bascom during the special election campaign last year. "Shame on them for these sensationalized ads.”
If Thrasher really rejects this kind of politics, then the campaign needs to quickly speak up and make it very clear that they do not support or endorse these kind of scorched earth political mailers.
Many insiders suspect that all the negative slime targeted at Thrasher in 2009 may have actually helped him out, by raising his profile with voters and casting him in the role of underdog against a well-funded army of slick political insiders.
“I think people began seeing through the attacks and I think it was a real rebuke to the kind of campaigning that was used against me,” said Thrasher following his victory in 2009.
Will history repeat itself?