Yesterday, a second anonymous mailpiece hit voters in Senate District 50, making questionable claims against candidate John Wilkinson. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more to come.
My first rule for analyzing claims made against an opponent is to ask whether the source is credible, and the credibility of an anonymous source is zeroed out. The second rule is to look at the documentation they provide, and if it’s totally lacking, I assume the claims are baseless. This mailpiece violates both rules and should find its way quickly to the garbage can.
One of the claims in the anonymous mailer is that Wilkinson retired from a state job for which he earns a pension and also earns another state paycheck, but Wilkinson’s Personal Financial Disclosure shows no payments in excess of $10,000 from any state agency. Of course Wilkinson may have received a paycheck or retirement payment and failed to disclose them, but if that’s the case, there should be some documentation.
The claim that Wilkinson has a lot in common with President Obama because he voted in Democratic primaries in the past, most recently in 2004 is likewise suspect. In fact, the voting pattern is interesting because after 2004, Wilkinson skipped voting in Primary elections and skipped 2006 entirely. He picked up in 2007 voting in three nonpartisan special elections, and then in March 2008 found a new home in the GOP. That’s the pattern you would expect from an older, conservative Georgian who grew up under one-party rule, eventually decided the Democratic party no longer reflected his values, and made his way across the aisle. Maybe he still is a Democrat in his heart of hearts, but his path is one well-trod by Gov. Deal, former Gov. Perdue and numerous other former-Democrats in Georgia.
While the first made silly claims that Wilkinson had “never cut taxes” or balanced a budget, the second has verifiable facts presented in a way designed to mislead voters.
Going strictly by the numbers, Wilkinson did indeed vote in four democratic primaries but that in itself is insignificant in a state where Democrats ran every level of government for more than a century up until 2003.
Current and Former Governors Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue both have Democrat party primaries on their voting records. Deal didn’t convert to the GOP until 1995. Perdue followed in 1998. Since then 15 sitting Democrat legislators in Georgia made the switch to the Republican Party. Last year alone 9 Democrats fled to the other side of the aisle including Hartwell’s Alan Powell.
The importance of primary voting records is further reduced by the fact that most local races in Stephens County, Franklin County and other area counties were historically single party affairs, settled during party primaries, meaning that voters have often had to cross party lines to have any say at all in their local government.
Perhaps the best example of how this political ad aims to mislead is the impossibly twisted logic of the quote about “voting for a Democrat in the congressional primary against Nathan Deal”. You can’t vote for or against a republican candidate in the democrat primary which is, by definition, the primary just for democrat candidates.