Republican attack ad airing in opposition to Manka Dhingra

On Tues­day, Novem­ber 7th, vot­ing will con­clude in what has become the most expen­sive state Sen­ate race in the his­to­ry of the Ever­green State. The out­come of the con­test in the sub­ur­ban 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict will deter­mine who con­trols Wash­ing­ton’s Sen­ate through 2018, and maybe beyond.

If Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Man­ka Dhin­gra wins, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty will regain the major­i­ty it lost when Rod­ney Tom and Tim Shel­don defect­ed to the Repub­li­cans in 2012. If Repub­li­can can­di­date Jiny­oung Lee Englund wins, the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans will remain in pow­er and retain their abil­i­ty to kill pro­gres­sive legislation.

A major­i­ty of vot­ers in the August Top Two elec­tion backed Dhin­gra, who fin­ished with 51.52% of the vote. Trail­ing far behind in sec­ond place was Englund with 41.46%. Inde­pen­dent Park­er Har­ris got 7.02% of the vote and was eliminated.

A month lat­er, the Wash­ing­ton State Wire released the toplines of a poll com­mis­sioned from Myers Research to ascer­tain how the gen­er­al elec­tion might turn out. The poll find­ings mir­rored the results of the Top Two elec­tion, with 51% of respon­dents say­ing they’d vote for Dhin­gra and 41% for Englund.

Repub­li­cans have tried to paint a rosier pic­ture by claim­ing their own inter­nal polling shows Englund gain­ing ground on Dhin­gra. But they haven’t released any num­bers, which sug­gests that even their own research finds that Dhin­gra is winning.

The prospect of a dou­ble dig­it Dhin­gra vic­to­ry isn’t sit­ting well with Repub­li­cans or their fun­ders, who are loathe to give up their stran­gle­hold on the state Sen­ate. With no evi­dence of a shift in their favor, they’ve become increas­ing­ly pan­icky, and are tak­ing out their frus­tra­tion on Dhin­gra and her campaign.

Just look at what they’re say­ing and doing.

Fake Face­book profiles

Republicans attack Manka Dhingra with Facebook ads like thisTo impugn Dhin­gra and mis­rep­re­sent her posi­tions on the issues, Repub­li­can oper­a­tives cre­at­ed mul­ti­ple fake Face­book pro­files using Manka’s name, accom­pa­nied by an ugly, yel­low-tinged image of her face.

The pro­files were then used as a launch­ing pad for ads which false­ly scream that Dhin­gra’s “extreme pro-drug agen­da is a threat to our community”.

This is a line of attack Repub­li­cans are push­ing hard. They’ve switched from fear­mon­ger­ing on the basis of high­er tax­es (which did­n’t work in the sum­mer elec­tion) to fear­mon­ger­ing on the basis of safe con­sump­tion sites.

After users com­plained about the fake pro­files, one was tak­en down and the name of the oth­er was changed to “Unof­fi­cial Man­ka Dhin­gra”. But there’s no such thing as an unof­fi­cial per­son — Face­book ought to force the Repub­li­cans to change the name of the page again.

Red Scare style attacks

A “Red Scare” is pro­mo­tion, real and imag­ined, of wide­spread fear by a soci­ety or state about a poten­tial rise of com­mu­nism, anar­chism, or rad­i­cal left­ism. The term is most often used to refer to two peri­ods in the his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States with this name.

– Wikipedia

Repub­li­can oper­a­tives have also cre­at­ed a video ad which ends with a young per­son stand­ing in front of Emil Venkov’s bronze sculp­ture of Vladimir Lenin in Fre­mont, Seat­tle, wear­ing glass­es, a beanie hat, ban­dan­na, and a pur­ple t‑shirt with Dhin­gra’s cam­paign logo on it (sim­i­lar to the kind her staff and vol­un­teers wear) plus sport­ing three but­tons: one depict­ing a ham­mer and sick­le, one that says “Sawant!” and one that says “Raise Tax­es!” It’s cap­tioned “Seat­tle Lib­er­als ♥ Man­ka Dhingra”.
Republican attack ad airing in opposition to Manka Dhingra

“I am tru­ly offend­ed and shocked at how low and how decep­tive the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty has got­ten with this ad!,” Dhin­gra said in response.

“They went so far as to make a fake T‑shirt with my cam­paign logo to trick vot­ers into think­ing this ad is from my cam­paign. If you are as out­raged as I am, make sure you vote and tell all your friends to vote. We need hon­esty and integri­ty in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate. Not lies and false information.”

Jiny­oung Lee Englund’s cam­paign has pro­duced its own sim­i­lar ads.

Jinyoung Lee Englund attack mailer
This mail­er was paid for by Friends of Jiny­oung Englund

Mail­ers that mim­ic the design and word­ing of the oppo­si­tion’s mailers

Evi­dent­ly envi­ous of the work of their coun­ter­parts on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic side, Repub­li­can oper­a­tives have also recent­ly cre­at­ed mail­ers that close­ly mim­ic the design and word­ing of the ads that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and its allies have been pay­ing for in oppo­si­tion to Englund since the spring­time. (Charles Caleb Colton said imi­ta­tion is the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery… but is it really?)

Here’s an exam­ple of a mail­er the Democ­rats have sent to vot­ers oppos­ing Englund:

Mailer in opposition to Jinyoung Lee Englund (front)Mailer in opposition to Jinyoung Lee Englund (back)And here’s an exam­ple of a recent mail­er the Repub­li­cans cre­at­ed against Dhin­gra, which employs the same design, col­or scheme, and wording:

Mailer in opposition to Manka Dhingra (back)Mailer in opposition to Manka Dhingra (back)But two can play at that game. The Democ­rats decid­ed a few months back to cre­ate a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee to spear­head their anti-Englund cam­paigns called the East­side Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, riff­ing on the name of the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ long-estab­lished PAC, which is bland­ly called The Lead­er­ship Council.

Dis­miss­ing Man­ka Dhin­gra’s expe­ri­ence as a prosecutor

Repub­li­cans say they are all about fam­i­ly val­ues, but to bor­row a phrase from Jiny­oung Lee Englund, that’s just a par­ty talk­ing point. Time and again, Repub­li­cans have demon­strat­ed that real fam­i­ly val­ues mean noth­ing to them.

The lat­est proof of this is Repub­li­cans’ cringe-wor­thy attempts to dis­cred­it Man­ka Dhin­gra’s work expe­ri­ence, which is one of her strengths as a candidate.

Dhin­gra does­n’t work full time for King Count Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney Dan Sat­ter­berg, the only Repub­li­can present­ly serv­ing in a coun­ty­wide posi­tion, because she has two chil­dren and a hus­band she wants to spend as much time with as possible.

That devo­tion to her fam­i­ly got her this:

Repub­li­cans and inde­pen­dent polit­i­cal groups have turned her résumé against her, not­ing that Dhin­gra hasn’t worked full-time as a pros­e­cu­tor since 2003. Instead, she’s worked part-time to help raise her fam­i­ly. She’s paid for six­teen hours a week, but [Mark Lar­son, chief deputy of the office’s crim­i­nal divi­sion and Dhingra’s boss] said Dhin­gra works more than that. Still, [Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair Susan] Hutchi­son argues that her lim­it­ed work sched­ule means she’s “not a career prosecutor.”

Empha­sis is mine. Seri­ous­ly, what an insult to every work­ing moth­er in the 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict and the State of Washington.

You might think Repub­li­can Par­ty brass would show more respect to some­one who is employed by the only Repub­li­can still hold­ing office in the state’s largest coun­ty. But on that score, you’d be wrong. In Man­ka Dhin­gra, Susan Hutchi­son and the peo­ple who work for her don’t see an accom­plished woman wor­thy of their respect. They see only an obsta­cle to their con­tin­ued grip on the Senate.

This kind of cam­paign­ing may strike Wash­ing­to­ni­ans as repug­nant, but it worked in oth­er states for Don­ald Trump, just as it has worked in the past here for Tim Eyman before this orga­ni­za­tion began tak­ing him on with a mind­set of Per­ma­nent Defense. The par­ty of Dan Evans, John Spell­man, and even Slade Gor­ton has become the par­ty of Don­ald Trump and Tim Eyman. And East­side vot­ers have tak­en notice.

The nas­ti­er and more craven Repub­li­cans get in their attacks, the more at risk they are of destroy­ing what’s left of their cred­i­bil­i­ty with sub­ur­ban voters.

But it seems they’re so des­per­ate to avoid los­ing on Novem­ber 7th in the 45th that they’re not think­ing through the con­se­quences of their self-defeat­ing behavior.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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