We have lived through more presidential and other election campaigns than we like to admit. Usually, when the opponents clash, the campaigns are interesting, sometimes juvenile, reeking of untruths and routinely misleading, irritating, ruthless in nature, cunning, clever — in other words, often tending to be bizarre.
This year there seems to be more of an amateurish or juvenile spin in some of the attacks. Without appearing to be Biden-like in gross haughtiness, we found an attack in the Spence-Nixon race for governor amusing. Dave Spence, the Republican candidate, said incumbent Democratic governor Jay Nixon had “sold his soul to the devil.” Spence, a successful businessman, is not known to be an expert in sales to the devil even when it comes to politics. Earlier in the campaign he said he had a degree in economics from MU. It turned out he had a degree in home economics, which does not make him ineligible to be governor. He did clarify his earlier statement by saying a campaign aide made a mistake in the degree matter.
Spence made the devil statement in response to a campaign ad that Nixon ran that said Spence was a principal in a bank that received federal stimulus money, and that some of those funds were used to make a loan to Spence so he could buy a million-dollar mansion at the Lake of the Ozarks. Spence now is suing Nixon over the ad, which was a reach, as far as Jefferson City to St. Louis. Spence said the ad is harmful to his reputation. So far, the Nixon camp has not sued Spence over his devil statement. The degree flap didn’t hurt but helped Nixon. Litigation when it comes to political statements usually does not have a lasting presence in our court system.
All the polls show Nixon leading the race. Spence is smart and is learning about politics. If he runs again for political office, he will not be an amateur.
Another race that is heating up is for secretary of state. The truth is, most average Missourians don’t know who the candidates are because neither is as well known as the bench-sitters on the St. Louis Cardinals. But their handlers dug deep and came up with some ammunition for their air rifles. The candidates are Democrat Jason Kander and Republican Shane Schoeller. The office can be a rung on a ladder to higher office. The incumbent, Robin Carnahan, of a well-known state political family, is not seeking re-election.
Kander has fired conflict of interest charges against Schoeller, saying he was in the Missouri House when a family member operated a state license fee office. Schoeller denied the conflict of interest and said the Department of Revenue and state auditor gave the operation high marks. Schoeller, digging deep, found that Kander had a $349.42 state lien filed against him, but it was released when the Department of Revenue said it erred in estimated billings and had failed to release the lien.
No conflict was registered after the audits. Nothing said on either side caused a crack in the Capitol dome.
Of course, the McCaskill-Akin race for the U.S. Senate has resulted in one attack after another, some even informative, others not so credible. Democrat McCaskill is the incumbent, and Republican Akin is the challenger. Akin’s remarks about women, rape, pregnancy and abortion received national attention. The insensitive remarks by a veteran U.S House member surprised many voters and pushed McCaskill higher in the polls. McCaskill, seeking a second term, has had to fend off many accusations. But what has made this race of national interest has been the St. Louis congressman’s far right standing and his remarks rather than the importance to either party in holding the Senate seat.
McCaskill has the edge in being in better touch with Missouri issues.
We know people are growing tired of politics and the accusations that are floated. However, we can’t escape it. It will end and there will be a collective sigh of relief. The media then will focus on the many other issues that are part of our daily lives.