Negative Campaigning

Negative Campaigning

Letter to the Editor

<bt>To the Editor:

I read with interest your profile of the race in the 37th state Senate district. I noticed that Jim Mitchell (D) has already picked up his old habit of skewing the truth in full attack mode. If his earlier races against Roger McClure are any indication, everyone can expect to start receiving negative mail from Mitchell that barely clings to the truth. It would be nice if he could run on the issues for once.

Mitchell has already started to run an all-negative campaign, with no positive proposals of his own. I looked at the candidates' Web sites today, and Mitchell did not even have an issue page with his positions. In one of his debates with Del. Roger McClure in 1999, Mitchell was asked by a high school student why he had not filled out an issue survey, and he answered that in 1997, McClure had used Mitchell's answers against him. So Mitchell's response was to not take any positions on issues and just attack.

In your article last week, Mitchell called Sen. Cuccinelli (R-37th) an enemy of public education, but Cuccinelli voted to increase teacher pay in the last session. Cuccinelli has also stated that he believes that the statewide education formula is unfair to Fairfax and he supports changing it to get more money for Fairfax. Cuccinelli does think that we spend too much money on administration and not enough in the classroom in Fairfax and on building classrooms. We now spend $10,000 per student. How much does Mitchell think we should spend per child? If we spend $15,000 per child, that will cost over $800 million more tax dollars per year. That's about an 80 cent increase in the real estate tax rate. That's over $2,000 more in real estate taxes every single year. Once again, he attacks without offering a constructive alternative.

Mitchell also falsely states that Cuccinelli has made a "lifetime pledge" to never support an increase in any tax ever. That's silly. In the article on Cuccinelli right next to the article on Mitchell in your paper, Cuccinelli discusses lowering the real estate tax while allowing the county to impose new taxes like cities can, but with limits that protect taxpayers. Cuccinelli has publicly committed to support tax restructuring that is revenue neutral. That means that total taxes will not go up, though particular taxes (e.g., taxes on services) might be introduced or increased, but overall the amount of taxes will stay the same or go down. Given how heavy a burden taxes are right now, this strikes me as the most responsible position.

Another example of a Mitchellesque attack that you can expect to see in your mailbox soon is his comment about HOT lanes. Mitchell admits that Cuccinelli's leadership on HOT lanes is the right way to go, but then he tries to flip the issue to portray Cuccinelli as a simpleton by falsely claiming that Cuccinelli thinks HOT lanes will solve all of our transportation problems. Again, this is silly. I was down in Richmond during the last session as Cuccinelli successfully advanced his idea for real-time light synchronization, he supported dedicating transportation trust fund dollars to transportation (instead of watching them get raided every few years), and he supported efforts to rewrite the transportation funding formula to be fairer to Northern Virginia.

Finally, Mitchell has apparently done some polling since your last article on him in the spring (in your earlier article on his initial candidacy), and he has discovered the obvious — people in this district do not want tax increases. In your introductory article about Mitchell, he said that we don't need more money for more government, i.e., more taxes. Now he says the opposite. What does Mitchell believe? Will he commit to not raising the overall tax burden on families?

Buckle your seatbelts in the 37th Senate district, because Jim Mitchell will soon fill your mailbox with negative half-truths while offering no constructive alternatives. Same old thing from him for the fourth race in a row.

Bill Schmidt