Attack Ads Hurt Voters Most

A member of our staff at the Pulse found an interesting direct-mail piece in her mailbox attacking 1st Senate District candidate Monk Elmer this week. The flyer is yet another example of a nasty national political climate flooding into small state races, with the biggest consequences suffered by voters.

The flyer, paid for by the American Federation for Children, a group that supports school choice and private school voucher programs, cites Elmer’s record as president of the Kimberly School Board.

It says Elmer voted to exceed spending caps, and it cites the Kimberly School District. But there’s one problem, the school district it refers to is in Idaho, not Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s Kimberly School District did increase taxes last year, but did not exceed revenue limit caps, as four of five Door County districts have passed referendums to do in the past three years.

“The main reason we had to increase at all is because the state has failed to come through on its promise of two-thirds funding for schools,” Elmer said, adding that the state has dropped its share of funding to about 58 percent. That means local property taxes go up to make up the shortfall.

Officials at the American Federation for Children, based in Washington D.C., could not be reached for comment and did not respond to emails.

The flyer also lists Elmer’s personal cell phone number, which he said received over 300 calls in the days after the mailing dropped.

Another flyer sent out by the American Federation for Children says Elmer is a member of an “extremist organization.” That organization is Physicians for Social Responsibility, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 and was founded to fight against nuclear war.

The sad thing about these types of attack ads is that it only serves to silence candidates, to stop them from speaking their mind on the important issues our society must have discussions about. I’ve sat down with both candidates for the 1st Senate District seat. I found my conversations with both Elmer and his Republican opponent Frank Lasee fascinating. Whether or not one agrees with one candidate or the other, they each have strong opinions on policy, ideas for change, and the willingness to talk honestly about their ideas. That’s a rarity.

Ads like this will only prove to make such conversations even harder to have.