House Speaker Chris Donovan’s, D-Meriden campaign for the 5th Congressional District nomination Sunday called upon his opponents to lay down their arms and join in a voluntary ”no negativity” agreement.
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Donovan issued the call in a press release reprinted below and also at a forum in Southbury, where the idea originated with that town’s Democrats.
At that same forum, according to the CT Mirror, one of Donovan’s opponents for the nomination – Elizabeth Esty – refused to participate.
So today Donovan’s campaign took Esty to task, highlighting his proposal and her position on it in an ad sent out over email and Twitter. The ad comes complete with video footage of what was said in Southbury.
Donovan’s pledge goes a bit further than that of the Southbury Democrats’ and mirrors an agreement struck in Massachusetts between incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
According to one observer from our neighboring state, it sounds like Donovan’s effort to score political points from the very discussion of the negativity ban is similar as well to how Brown and Warren tried to capitalize on their negotiations.
“In terms of semantics the Brown campaign floated this first. Warren took credit for who had the first enforceable proposals,” John Baick, professor of history at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. told me. ”They went back and forth for quite a while. Both sides were talking about high-mindedness, meanwhile accusing the other side of being the most despicable. If there was a handshake, a symbolic agreement and enforceable one, it was done with maximum acid involved. It was the most insincere moment of bipartisanship I can see.”
I asked Southbury Democratic Chairman Drew Morten this afternoon if Donovan’s using the negativity debate to run a negative ad against Esty should be a no-no.
Morten said on the one hand it could be viewed as a sign Donovan takes the idea seriously.
“Whether it unto itself brushes up against the concept of negative campaigning I haven’t thought that completely through,” Morten said.
Donovan’s release from Sunday:
MERIDEN, CT – Democratic candidate for the 5th congressional district seat Chris Donovan today proposed an agreement between the Democratic candidates for Congress in the 5th Congressional District to avoid negative campaigning in the Democratic Primary. Speaking at the Southbury DTC Candidate Forum, Donovan asked his Democratic opponents to agree to a proposal that would penalize the campaign of a candidate if the campaign, or an outside group hoping to aid the candidate, campaigned negatively during the primary election.
“In a Democratic primary, Democrats tearing down other Democrats is destructive and plays into the hands of Republicans. Ultimately, it makes our goal of fighting for middle class families, for jobs, and to protect Medicare and Social Security that much harder,” said Donovan.
“I will agree to a pledge against negative campaigning in the primary, so long as all of the candidates agree, and the agreement is comprehensive, so that it includes both the campaign and any and all outside groups. I believe that we should put teeth into the agreement and agree to a penalty should any of our campaigns, or any supportive outside groups, break the pledge against negative campaigning in the primary. A penalty of 50% of the size of the ad buy to be given to a charity would make any agreement meaningful, and enforceable. I formally propose that the three candidates agree to that penalty, paid by the campaign, should any of our campaigns, or any outside groups who become involved in the race, break the pledge against negatively campaigning in the primary.”
The proposed agreement is attached below:
DOING RIGHT BY OTHER DEMOCRATS
Agreeing to avoid negative campaigning in the 2012 Democratic primary campaign
Negative campaigning between Democratic campaigns in a primary election only serves to help Republicans at our expense. It dampens the enthusiasm of Democratic voters, depresses turnout, and allows Republican candidates to reap the benefits of the ads without having to expend their resources.
Democratic primary voters deserve the chance to hear why each of us feel we’re best qualified to be the next representative of the district and we should take the lead in committing to run no negative attacks against each other and to speak out against any group acting on our behalf who runs such attacks.
With that in mind, the Donovan campaign requests a meeting with representatives from the Elizabeth Esty, Dan Roberti, and Randy Yale campaigns, led by the Southbury DTC, to come to an agreement which includes the following general parameters:
1. All candidates agree to refrain from running negative ads by their campaigns during the Democratic primary.
2. All candidates agree to denounce any negative ads run by outside groups during the Democratic primary, and call for those ads to be halted.
3. All candidates agree that if their campaigns, or outside groups with the goal of helping to elect them, run negative ads during the Democratic primary, the campaign pledges to donate 50% of the cost of the offending expenditure to a charity or charities agreed upon in advance by the three campaigns.
We look forward to having an open discussion between the campaigns and to coming to an agreement that ensures Democratic voters get the race they deserve.