Hammer isn't sure exactly what negative campaigning he's denouncing.
The supervisor’s race isn’t just getting personal. This time, it’s…hypothetical. The Weekly received a press release from the Eric Hammer for 5th District Supervisor campaign that reads, “Both my opponent and I signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices pledging to run a clean campaign and I am sticking by my pledge. I challenge him to do the same and to denounce any negative campaign activities by any third parties or independent expenditures working on his behalf. The voters in Santa Cruz County deserve it.”
“Let’s see a campaign about the issues, and leave the negative campaigning out of this race. What the voters want to hear about is the issues affecting the Fifth District…Not mudslinging,” said Hammer in the release.
Them’s fighting words, we thought. Certainly such wording would seem to imply specific negative campaign activities performed on behalf of his opponent, Bruce McPherson. Except that when we called Hammer, he was reluctant to talk about any.
“I think what’s meant by [the release] is, if there is or ever will be anything that is negative, by denouncing it, that’s coming clean and saying, ‘Hey I don’t want my supporters doing this,’” said Hammer, whose defiance was matched only by his complete and total ambiguity. “If that’s happening, that pledge is for both of us.”
Not so fast, says Stephen Reed, McPherson’s campaign manager. He’s said the negative third-party tactics are actually coming from Hammer’s side. And he’s ready to talk specifics, including reports from Boulder Creek residents that Service Employees International Union (SEIU) mailers in support of Hammer “work very hard to say Bruce is a Republican.” McPherson officially dropped his Republican Party affiliation this summer and is now running as an Independent.
The McPherson campaign is also none too happy about the recently vandalized McPherson for Supervisor signs which someone painted to read, “Republican: 1993-2012.”
“The Hammer campaign allowed political literature to be printed full of mistruths, and his supporters vandalized political signs,” said Reed. “That’s just the unfortunate consequence of campaigns from time to time.”