Monday, May 25, 2009

Small-town politics turns ugly

If you thought negative advertising and personal attacks were reserved for national political races, think again.

Nancy March, editor of The Pottstown Mercury, has been writing about the political scene in Pottstown for decades, but she's never seen politics turn so negative as they did in the May 19 Primary Election.

From her most recent column:
Politics in this town is becoming increasingly personal and divisive. The factions no longer fall strictly along party lines. On Election Night, there were at least five different alliances gathering separately — three groups of Republicans and two of Democrats.

In some cases, individuals who worked together on campaigns in the past this time attacked each other in published comments, conversation and at the polls.

The rhetoric became so severe at one polling place that first a sheriff's representative was called and then the local police department to warn a former public official that her strongly worded opinions were getting close to voter intimidation.

The attacks were often not sanctioned by a candidate or a party, but were lodged on a battlefield of personalities. On Election Eve, campaign signs for both Pottstown Democratic mayoral candidates were shredded, apparently by supporters acting without the candidates' knowledge.

In another case, signs with one person's name and a hash mark through it appeared overnight throughout town in what can only be characterized as a personal smear campaign.

More than one faction tried to use this newspaper as a battleground as well, dropping off photocopies of old news articles, calling with tips, and e-mailing messages about candidates' relatives, business dealings and suspected motives.
Read the full column, "Display of politics by attack is not a pretty picture,"
at The Mercury's Web site.

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