Friday, October 22, 2004
Fargo vs. Thibault: political warfare Negative mailings, private investigations
Most registered voters have received a few postcards from John Thibault's campaign by now. One mailing, paid for by the Massachusetts Republican Party, shows an angry man saying, "Susan Fargo, you've got some explaining to do!" On the back it criticizes the senator's voting record.
Thibault campaign manager Eric Abell said the postcard was actually written by the state Republican Party, not at Thibault's campaign office. However, Thibault gave final approval for the mailer. The card includes an unflattering photo of Fargo, shot by someone in the Thibault campaign, taken while she was unaware at a Bedford event, said Abell. The Thibault campaign has organized six mailings and the Republican party has sent out three more on his behalf. More mailings from both sides are expected before election day.
Fargo's chief of staff Don Siriani said, "People are recognizing that the other side's campaign style is an assault on the memory and intelligence of voters in the district." Thibault believes that campaigns should not invade personal or family lives. Beyond that, "whatever is in the public domain is fair game."
At the debate in Chelmsford, Thibault accused Fargo of hiring a private investigator to investigate his personal life. "Who is MLB Associates?" he asked Fargo, naming the firm her campaign had allegedly paid to investigate him. Fargo never addressed the allegation at the debate.
Fargo consultant David Honen admitted later that the campaign had looked into Thibault's background with MLB Associates. It is an executive search firm, not a private investigator, he said. "He has no public record, other than the Chelmsford FinCom, but he has a background in business and public corporations and it's reasonable to look into it," he said. "We were not looking into his family or his personal life. Nothing unusual came up on the search. He was a successful entrepreneur. There was nothing there."
Fargo maintains she is not wealthy and can't afford to give thousands of her own money for the campaign as Thibault has. "My opponent says I am buying a seat. Voters are much too smart for that," Thibault countered.
At a debate in Concord, Fargo told the audience, "The Republicans are running a centralized campaign," noting that other Democratic incumbents have had the same charges about relaxing CORI checks leveled at them. (See story page 7.) "My opponent and the Republican Party are playing politics at any price. In every district the Republican Committee has gone out of the way to create false issues, misstatements, and distortions."
With the Democratic Party filling 33 out of the 40 current state senate seats, the Massachusetts Republican Party has publicly endorsed and financially supported Republican candidates such as Thibault this election year. Republican leaders have made it no secret they are trying to gain some key seats in the legislature to support Governor Romney.
At the Concord debate, State Representative Cory Atkins said women make up only 25% of the House. Her challenger, Republican Doug Stevenson of Carlisle, drew chuckles when he pointed out, "The only smaller group than women in the State House is the Republicans!"
© 2004 The