Bartle: Let’s prove politics doesn’t have to be dirty


I knew going in receiving criticism is part of running for a high-profile political office (though I’m increasingly glad my mom doesn’t live in our legislative district and subject to the attacks ads that have been mailed). In fact, I was told very clearly if my opponent couldn’t find any “dirt” on me, he’d make it up.

This sentiment was reinforced when I first told my mother about my plans. After telling me what a great legislator I would be, she tearfully likened the upcoming experience of my candidacy to when my brother was deployed to Afghanistan.

What a shame. For at least one mother, the emotional toll of campaigning to be a public servant is akin to going to war.

I get it; it’s a nasty game. But it doesn’t have to be.

The messaging from my opponent, Steve Smith, attacking me started as typical political spin – take a fact and twist it in such a way the meaning changes to your benefit. Then it graduated to disingenuous. Now, it’s littered with egregious lies. (I’d like to credit his desperation with the rapid regression.)

For the record (again):
1. I adamantly oppose ObamaCare and all federal overreach.
2. Low taxes and limited government are principles upon which my decisions in the Senate will be made.
3. I support school choice and local control.

My opponent knows this – we discuss it at every campaign stop – but he advertises the opposite as true nonetheless. He’s trying to take your attention away from the fact that after four years in the Legislature he has not positively impacted the important issues facing our district and state. If he was an effective leader and properly represented his constituents, he would spend his time, money and advertising talking about all the great things he’s done for you and your family.

If this election was based solely on the candidates and the issues, I win in a landslide. I don’t say that out of arrogance; my opponent’s campaign strategy proves it.

You will not see these tactics from my campaign. I told myself and others I would run a campaign consistent with my core values – No. 1 of which is integrity – even if it hurts my chances to win. I will continue to focus on the facts surrounding the issues and candidates’ records (fortunately, I have a lot to work with). I will not stoop to the level of manufacturing lies and trying to deceive voters just to win an election.

Dirty politics exists because we, the voters, let it. Unscrupulous politicians would have to change their strategy if lies and deceit weren’t so effective.

Let’s do our part to make future elections about the people and the issues by voting for those qualified candidates who are transparent and honest; not the ones telling you what they think you want to hear just to dupe you into voting for them.