Selective quotes sling political mud

Aug 14, 2010

The Tampa Tribune

no attention to the man behind the curtain," the Wizard exhorts Dorothy
and cohorts toward the end of "The Wizard of Oz" as he is unveiled to
be "a very good man" and a fraud.

Unlike the erstwhile travelers on the yellow brick road, voters
shouldn't be fooled near the finish of this primary election cycle by
shifty campaign commercials written to persuade by deception.

Take, for example, the Democratic primary campaign for state attorney
general between two of the finest candidates for office this year. One
half of the pair has gone slumming, taking to the airwaves and
disingenuously using this newspaper's words in an attempt to discredit
his opponent.

State Sen. Dave Aronberg, typically one of the good guys, appears
desperate, having chosen to demean himself with an attack ad describing
his opponent, state Sen. Dan Gelber, a man with whom he shares most
views, as "tainted" because Gelber's former law firm was hired by BP to
defend the oil giant against probable lawsuits resulting from the Gulf
oil spill.

That one word description, taken from a single reference in a single story, is unfair and wrong.

In the same ad, Aronberg quotes this page accurately. We called him a
"fierce consumer advocate." What he does not disclose in the commercial
is that this editorial board, like at least seven others, endorsed his

Gelber has fired back in interviews and in his own advertisements. He
derides Aronberg's experience, referring to him as a "junior lawyer." In
an e-mail this week, Gelber states: "My opponent has resorted to
dishonest advertisement claiming that my former law firm's
representation of BP somehow 'taints' me even though every newspaper and
the Florida Bar have rejected the claim outright. And in another
unfortunate, even ugly, tactic, particularly for a member of the Bar, my
opponent has called me a 'Miami lawyer,' (ironic, given that he too was
a Miami lawyer)."

Aronberg responded again on Tuesday, attacking Gelber for releasing a
"vicious" mailer that "distorts" the former's legislative record.
Aronberg accuses Gelber of using a third-party group to raise money for
his campaign. "He can pretend that he will keep his hands clean while
his group slings mud. The fact that my opponent has jumped from race to
race looking for a political job may not upset voters. After all, we
have come to expect a certain amount of opportunism in politics. But
what voters don't like is hypocrisy."

Voters don't like hypocrisy, true, but they also don't appreciate
distortion and deception, which is what Aronberg has given us the last
couple of weeks.

The Republican attorney general primary has also been plagued by
mudslinging. An Orlando lawyer who supports Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp sent
an e-mail attacking Tampa's Pam Bondi for personal matters, including
having been divorced twice.

Politicians go negative because they know that kind of campaigning often
works. People do remember clever advertisements, but voters will not be
lured to a candidate by manipulation alone.

All the attorney general candidates can make a good case for their
qualifications. But when they indulge in deceptive campaign tactics,
voters should question their judgment and credibility.

Special Message from Dan Gelber's "Little Brother"- Travis Thomas

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Political advertisement paid for and approved by Dan Gelber.