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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Kline Record: A Brief Summary of the 2006 Campaign

As provided by Kline's 2006 opponent, Coleen Rowley, in today's Pioneer Press. Reproduced here in it's entirety, so it will still be available after the article disappears from the PiPress website:


Big money bought distortion, and the facts didn't matter

On Nov. 7, a Democratic wave swept across the country and ushered new leadership into the House and Senate. But a few Republicans survived the wave, including my opponent, John Kline, in Minnesota's Second Congressional District.

I freely admit that I did not run a perfect campaign, and certainly not according to what political experts advise.

But one thing I did right was to spend 10 months focusing my campaign on the issues. John Kline's focus was clearly elsewhere, as demonstrated by his content-free campaign Web site, his refusal to participate in the League of Women Voters' debate, and his failure to respond to numerous issues questionnaires.

Considering Kline's record, this strategy makes perfect sense. He's on the wrong side of public opinion concerning the Iraq War. He voted for permanent military bases in Iraq, and he also just voted to end oversight over the administration's reconstruction contracts there. He has a record of near-unanimous support for George Bush's unpopular domestic agenda, including privatizing Social Security and the Medicare prescription drug plan.

So John Kline hired a Karl Rove protégé to produce a series of 12 smear mailers about me, each containing ugly pictures and whopper lies. Each followed Rove's formula of attacking an opponent at his or her strength: In my case, my law enforcement and national security background and experience teaching ethics. With hundreds of thousands from big oil, drug, defense contractor and insurance company PACs, Kline could pay Rove's protégé a handsome fee for cleverly worded but hugely misleading distortions and then distribute them throughout the district. Kline also spent large sums to constantly air similarly negative TV ads to further mislead voters.

Our Founding Fathers were right to worry about a misinformed electorate. For a long time, I thought our independent news media would conduct "reality checks" on the falsehoods in Kline's negative ad campaign. But it just didn't happen. No media took Mr. Kline to task for saying he was "too busy" to engage in the normal public debates, or to answer voter guide questions. And no media made much effort to expose the distortions Mr. Kline was making in his ads or mailers. When they were mentioned at all, it was to say that our "race" (grouping us together) was one of the most negative in the country, ignoring the fact that all of the negativity came from Kline's campaign.

One thing is clear. The special interest corruption we deplore is rooted in political campaign financing. Without enacting comprehensive ethics reforms applicable to Congress itself, including campaign finance reform (something John Kline ardently opposes), and without a more alert news media to referee the facts, the same scenario of negative ads producing misinformed voters will continue to repeat itself.

Ultimately, this is not about Kline or Rowley; it is about a bad system that needs fixing. Otherwise the mute buttons of our TVs will just get another workout next election cycle, millions of dollars will again dissipate as wasted airwaves into the universe, and we will still not be one step closer to getting the responsible, trustworthy government that we deserve.

It's worth pointing out that in publishing this article, the PiPress is rectifying, in a small and belated way, its hideously partisan handling of the endorsement process.

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