Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Face it, there was no golden age of clean campaigns

Published: Sunday, Aug. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: Utah Democrats learned in the governor's race two years ago that massive carpet-bombing of personal assaults against Republicans does not work. So the minority party will be positive and more focused on surviving the "Romney Tsunami." Conversely, the local GOP will strive to link all Democrats to Obama — technically not negative campaigning, but certainly not "high-road politics."

Webb: We will see the usual last-minute direct mail attacks in legislative and local races. Depending on late poll numbers, candidates may be tempted to go negative in the Fourth Congressional District (Jim Matheson vs. Mia Love) and the Salt Lake County mayoral race (Mark Crockett vs. Ben McAdams). Utah Democrats in big races, especially, sometimes have a difficult choice: Do I lose with dignity? Or do I hold my nose, go negative and perhaps have a small chance of winning?

If Love is behind Matheson in the last month, and if her campaign is being run, or heavily influenced, by outside consultants, don't be surprised to see tough negative advertising against Matheson. That's dangerous because Matheson is well liked. On the other hand, Matheson won't hesitate to go negative on Love if it appears she's on track to win.

Attacks on records, issues and affiliations are fair game in Utah. Personal attacks dealing with integrity and family usually backfire.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to former Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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