If you fight negativity with negativity, are you being negative? Or is it a double negative?
Election politics is a messy cluster. Witness Luanne Van Werven vs. Satpal Sidhu for a state House seat representing north Whatcom County.
Republican Van Werven maintains that her opponent, Democrat Sidhu, is running a negative campaign while she remains positive.
Yet it was a Whatcom County Republican Party email signed by Van Werven and sent to Republicans on Thursday, Oct. 30, that fired a particularly aggressive salvo at Sidhu, charging him with using “religious bigotry” and name-calling to attack Van Werven’s character.
“My opponent and his supporters have resorted to highly offensive tactics, like calling me an extremist, anti-woman and even using religious bigotry to their advantage,” the email says.
Van Werven was not immediately available by phone Thursday evening, when I had this story and wanted to run with it. With a nod from my editor, I went ahead with the story pending Republicans’ responses because Van Werven’s claims seemed so incendiary.
“As a devout member of the Sikh faith, Mr. Sidhu should be the last person to condone attacking another based on their religion. This is hypocrisy in overdrive; it is disgraceful, prejudicial, and must be condemned with full force,” the email says.
Republicans assert that Sidhu was the one who made statements that were out of line, calling them “outrageous attacks” in the email.
Van Werven did get back to me with a brief comment, via email, this morning.
“I’m disappointed in the negativity by my opponent but I plan to finish strong and keep it focused on my positive vision for Washington State,” she said.
The heavy lifting for the GOP response to my requests for comment was from county party Chairman Charlie Crabtree, whom I also called yesterday but was unable to reach.
“Satpal says he doesn't know where the ‘anti-woman’ accusation came from? Read the email below FROM SATPAL that he sent to supporters,” Crabtree wrote this morning in an email.
This is what Crabtree provided. It had Sidhu’s signature at the bottom:
The highlight is on paragraph 6: “My opponent, a 20-year political operative for the Republican Party and anti-women groups....”
As for the “religious bigotry” claim, which as Sidhu said yesterday runs completely against the stream of the Sikh philosophy, Republicans grabbed that from a post by local blogger Riley Sweeney, who gave his election endorsements on Saturday, Oct. 25.
Here was Sweeney’s offending paragraph, in the eyes of Republicans:
From Charlie Crabtree’s email:
I couldn’t get hold of Sweeney right away this morning, but he and I have discussed this more generally. When he blogs, he has told me, he does not speak for the Democratic Party but only for himself.
*Exhale.* We’ll start to see where the chips fall Tuesday night.