The jury’s still out on the effectiveness of negative campaigning. But there can be no doubt the individual working for the NDP in the Annapolis Valley who directed a slur at a Liberal candidate blew it big time.
A followup question is whether any lessons are learned; does it change anything in the big picture regarding political mudslinging?
At any rate, NDP candidate for Kings South Ramona Jennex quickly apologized to her opponent, Liberal Keith Irving, over a paid staffer’s accusation calling Irving an “outspoken homophobe.” Jennex also fired the campaign worker, Nathaniel Cole.
By all accounts the smear had no foundation, thus the public is left to ponder whether it was simply a tactless, ill-conceived barb delivered by an inexperienced individual. Even if that’s the case, someone running for office should really assess the workers more carefully – and lay down the law about what is considered inappropriate.
The fallout is a candidate who can claim he was unjustly attacked. He also has backup in the form of federal Liberal MP Scott Brison, who has compared samples of provincial NDP attacks to what the public has come to expect on the federal political scene from the Conservatives.
When you take the bulldog approach, never count out the sympathy vote that might well be picked up by the candidate under attack.
Was this an issue especially because casting slurs about sexual orientation is a hugely sensitive issue? Had Cole made some other ad hominem attack on Irving, would he have got away with it? He would have plenty of role models in the political world who have made such attacks on character and even managed to score some points.
Poking fun at facial features, or ‘just visiting,’ or ‘out of his league’ comments somehow pass the muster on most occasions. It might be politicians and their aides underestimating the intelligence of the voting public, but some seem convinced that actually discussing the issues is too complicated.