Personal attacks appearing in campaign mailers sent by a political action committee, or PAC, have no place in our local politics.
PACs essentially have no responsibilities to the constituents of the 26th Legislative District, nor apparent connections with any of the candidates for state Senate. But what this PAC should take responsibility for are the crude statements about a Bremerton woman — a private citizen who deserves our admiration and congratulations, not denigration and shame — through patently false accusations in the mailer.
Tarra Simmons rose from drug addiction, theft and prison time to graduate in 2017 with honors from the Seattle University School of Law — and ultimately passed the bar exam and obtained a prestigious legal fellowship.
The hit pieces were mailed by the PAC to voters in quick succession over the past few weeks. The mailers painted Democratic candidate Emily Randall as a youthful, flippant extremist who makes bad choices as a result of her political leanings and inexperience — and those she associates with, including Simmons.
The mailers not only were full of low blows, their assertions about Simmons are false and manipulative — she was called a drug-addicted ex-con who was denied admission to the Washington State Bar.
That’s simply not true. While Simmons was initially denied a chance to take the bar exam by the state bar organization because of her convictions, the Supreme Court ruled that by serving her sentence, she was free to take the exam. She passed the first time.
Simmons’s association with Randall is also tenuous, at best. Randall congratulated her for the Supreme Court victory on her Facebook page. Simmons made a small contribution to the Democrat’s campaign, and the two met briefly at two events. That’s it.
The crude and base messages on those mailers from WA Forward are the handiwork of the organization’s leaders, Republican state senators John Braun and Mark Schoesler, and The Leadership Council, which is associated with the Legislature’s Republican caucus.
Randall’s GOP opponent, Marty McClendon, has denied his campaign is connected in any way with the mailers and has expressed his disapproval of their personal attacks. Another Republican, Rep. Michelle Caldier, in fact, defended Simmons on her own Facebook page and decried the personal attacks in the hit pieces. Both should be lauded for taking the higher road.
For a weary constituency fed up with nasty politics made personal, this should be an example to every campaign — and PACs that blanket communities like the 26th District with their independent expenditure messaging — that, in the end, the resiliency and fortitude of a private citizen’s triumph can outshine even the most blatant personal attack.