The negative mail has been flying fast and furious in District 18. How accurate is it?
Let’s start with Dana Beyer’s attacks on Del. Jeff Waldstreicher. She opened with a clever mail piece playing on Where’s Waldo? entitled Where’s Waldstreicher? that went after Jeff’s attendance record. Specifically, it pointed out that Jeff has missed far more county delegation votes than any other delegate and also missed a lot of committee votes in 2015. Additionally, Jeff has convened the special committee on drug and alcohol abuse only once since 2011.
More recently, I received this piece that additionally attacks Jeff for hiding from his constituents. (Note: two of the quotes come from previous Seventh State reporting.)
Are these claims by Dana Beyer about Jeff Waldstreicher accurate? Yes. The quotes are not taken out of context and Jeff has indeed cancelled several campaign appearances on short notice for a variety of reasons.
This is a very effective negative advertisement. Going after an incumbent for missing a lot of important votes and being afraid to meet his constituents is utterly legitimate. It directly undermines Jeff’s claim to be a progressive champion since he misses important votes and seems to be doing his best to avoid answering questions from constituents on issues in public settings.
Jeff has not responded publicly. However, he has paid for neighbor letters to go out claiming that the attack on his attendance record is false. Similarly, he has told constituents one-on-one that it’s not true. However, the letter cherry picks his committee attendance in a different year and doesn’t even discuss his frequent absences from delegation meetings. So Jeff’s claims that Dana’s criticisms are false are deceptive and untrue.
Jeff Returns Fire
What about Jeff’s attack on Dana? After issuing statements in the past saying “when they go low, we go high” and paying for neighbor letters than attack Dana’s campaign as negative, Jeff has decided to close out his campaign with a very negative mail piece that castigates Dana for criticizing President Barack Obama.
How accurate are Jeff’s negative attacks on Dana? Completely. They are accurate quotes that detail Dana’s sharp criticism from the left of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Some might point out that the quotes that Jeff uses are very old. Indeed, they are from 2009 and 2012. But that doesn’t render them untrue.
Moreover, as in the case of Dana’s attack on Jeff, he seems to have captured something important here. While Dana supporters would likely portray her statements as a trenchant progressive critique, they come across as almost limitless in arrogance.
Dana blithely sets aside political realities that limited the nature of the health care reform bill and seemingly negates that Obama achieved a long-time Democratic dream. It communicates the sense that she really understands these issues better and clearly would have handled this challenge better than the President.
The piece captures the utter certitude that can be useful to a surgeon handling a crisis in the operating room but less appealing in a junior politician who needs to work with colleagues who will not have patience for lectures of this sort. This same tone can also come across as talking down rather than listening to constituents.
I have heard some local residents decrying the negative tone of one or the other campaign. However, these are reasonable lines of attack. They are not made up or spurious allegations and neither distorts the other’s record. You’re free not to like it but the claims all seem reasonable enough to me.