Monday, July 30, 2018

Public Instruction Superintendent race goes nasty

It had to happen, I guess. We are now in the season of attack ads.

Various news reports make a few salient points about the two Democratic candidates for Superintendent for Public Instruction, David Schapira and Kathy Hoffman. First, their positions on issues relating to K–12 are not very different. Second, finding not a lot else to differentiate them, the candidates are squabbling over meanings of “teacher” and “certified”. Hoffman is a certified teacher with 6 years of experience. Schapira has taught but also has served in the legislature and has administrative experience. All that’s in the public record. Third, the campaign has taken a nasty turn with ad hominem attacks by Hoffman against Schapira. Most recently, Hoffman is running a TV ad reminiscent of the dark money ad run against US Senate candidate Richard Carmona - unidentified people levying unsubstantiated charges.

[About the ad from Hoffman’s Facebook page:] “These two women courageously shared their experiences of working with my primary opponent because they know the future of Arizona’s schools is at stake. Over the past year, countless women and educators have come forward with their own experiences with David Schapira’s professional incompetence and disrespect.”

This an example of what I find offensive. “Countless”? Give me a count. Would that be 2? “Women and educators”? Who are they? Heck, even porn star Stormy Daniels had the guts to self-identify. As did Playboy model Karen McDougal.

On Facebook, “Austin R. Stumpf” responded to Hoffman’s ad.

There’s a cavernous dearth of critical thinking happening in our community surrounding the discussion of an irresponsible, disgusting negative ad. I implore us as Democrats and civically engaged people to do better.

For a story to be credible, it should have at least one of two elements: a person who puts their name on the record or, more importantly, an actual specific allegation. Neither are present in this ad. Only broad characterizations.

The discussion claims we have to “believe” these people. What am I supposed to believe? What charge is being made? I have yet to hear or see anything substantial.

The forum is also suspect. These aspersions are being cast by a 30-second hit piece, not from a journalist’s report, which passes through processes to ensure that claims are credible, even when made anonymously.

Furthermore, the ad strongly implies that the recording is from a conversation with one of the two anonymous people. The Republic’s piece on the ad states that the recording is instead from a conversation between the candidates. Those are wildly different situations.

If these broad characterizations were the best “hits” that the campaign had, we should question whatever underlying charges they’re asking us to infer.

Producing this ad is malicious. Airing this ad is irresponsible. Believing it at face value is careless.

David Schapira is a good man. I have always counted on him to do the right thing and in all the years I’ve known him, he has never failed me. Suggesting otherwise, without a specific claim, is appalling. I expect better.

Here’s the capper on Hoffman’s attack ad. She’s running “clean.” That means that you and I as taxpayers have a stake in that ad, like it or not.

You can find out more about Hoffman’s ad and the Schapira response in this report from The Republic/azcentral.com, Democratic superintendent race gets nasty with personal attacks.

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