The final weeks of a long political campaign can be rough ones. As expected, the exchanges between mayoral candidates Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett have gotten more pointed since the Sept. 27 primary, when Rogero barely missed winning an outright majority. But some of the lowest blows have originated outside the campaigns themselves. After weeks of whispers about arrest records and mugshots of both of them, a question at a debate last week led to less-than-titillating revelations: Rogero was arrested twice for civil disobedience in the course of peaceful political demonstrations (both charges were dismissed), and Padgett got booked and had a mugshot taken for a traffic offense in Florida (he paid an $83 fine for careless driving).
More scurrilous was the anonymous letter sent to an unknown number of local Republican voters urging them to support Padgett and attacking some prominent Rogero supporters by name, including one singled out as a “queer.” Both campaigns denounced the letter (Padgett: “disgusting”; Rogero: “filth”). The conventional wisdom is that negative campaigning often works to depress overall turnout. Given the light numbers in early voting so far (just over 3,000 as of Tuesday), turnout is depressed enough already.