Politics as usual (sigh!)

By Chuck Kajer

Anyone who was hoping for a nice, clean congressional campaign in Minnesota’s second district is sure to be disappointed.

Certainly, with the nasty tone of the last few elections, pot shots were to be expected, especially when you have two candidates—former FBI agent Colleen Rowley and Congressman John Kline—who are such polar opposites in the political spectrum.

Still, this is Minnesota, and we hold our candidates to a higher standard, don’t we? What about Minnesota Nice?

Not around here, not until after November, I’m guessing.

The latest salvo in the campaign was the result of a blog on Rowley’s web site, ridiculing the congressman for introducing a bill replacing a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill with one of Ronald Reagan.

The tone of the blog wasn’t unusually nasty, nor was it anything out of the ordinary for what you’d expect. The writing and research was done by someone from the Rowley campaign, and she endorsed the idea presented in the blog, which compared Kline, a former colonel in the U.S. Marines, to Col. Klink of Hogan’s Heroes Fame.

That’s where the nastiness came in. A staffer had taken a photo of Col. Klink and used Photoshop to put Kline’s face in the photo, complete with a monocle.

Kline’s office reacted predictably, sending out three emails to the media within a half-hour span that condemned the use of the photo, saying it was an insult to portray someone of his distinguished service record as a Nazi.

Perhaps for the first time, and maybe the only time in this campaign, Rowley appeared to agree with him. Within an hour of Kline’s email, the offending article and photo had been removed from Rowley’s web site. In addition, Rowley reported that she planned to offer a personal apology, either in person or by phone, to Kline.

Only time will tell how much damage has been done to Rowley’s campaign. The incident should send a message to any candidate or volunteer in a political campaign to think twice before pulling such a stunt. But then again, in this age of mudslinging politics, that is doubtful.

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