Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ugly Campaigning in House 43rd

Frankly, I’m disappointed in Steve Dyer. According to today’s Beacon, he at least tacitly approved a party mailer against Chris Croce that criticizes her for offering a plea bargain to an accused rapist. The horror! As I wrote when the Jennifer Brunner was victim of a similar smear, plea bargaining is part of being a prosecutor. You offer a plea bargain for a number of reasons – because you want to spare the victim (Croce’s claim in this case), because the case is punk, because the judge will make you miserable if you don’t.

I don’t much like Chris Croce. But when I worked in the Summit Prosecutor’s office immediately after the regime change that prompted her to leave, she left behind a reputation as a tough prosecutor. Which in her case means that she was no nicer to accused criminals than to anyone else. The simple fact that the campaign dug through her records and found one case among the hundreds she prosecuted speaks loudly to that.

I like Steve Dyer. I still think he is by far the better candidate in the race. He's a smart guy with good ideas and a real dedication to make life better. I suspect Croce is more interested in her own personal ambitions than the needs of her prospective constituents. If I was in the 43rd District, I'd still be choosing Dyer over Croce.

Not to mention, if ever there was a year to follow Michael Kinsley's advice and proudly vote straight ticket, it's this year.

But, I must protest. I don’t know that the complaint will have legs – this is more a case of histrionic spin than distortion of facts. But it’s still crap. It’s exactly the sort of truth-warping electioneering that turns good people off of politics. And – join me in the chorus here – it distorts justice if judges, lawyers and prosecutors must maintain an attitude of maximum harshness to have a chance to vie for elected office in the future. We let this pass at our peril.