Friday, October 31, 2008

Clancy Runs A Distasteful Campaign

I'd had no intention of expressing preferences in any of the local races (particularly any involving the courthouse), but I was infuriated by an ad Patricia Clancy ran earlier tonight.  Perhaps it's been running for some time, but I hadn't seen it before.  Clancy, a Republican, is running against Democratic candidate Martha Good for HamCo Clerk of Courts.

In the ad, Clancy suggests that Martha Good isn't qualified to be the Clerk of Courts.  (Good is, by the way, the only Democratic candidate endorsed by the Enquirer this year.)  Clancy's "evidence":  Good supposedly received negative evaluations from her students at Miami University.  The ad goes on to show college-aged actors saying mean things about Ms. Good.  (The ad is produced in such a way that one might get the impression that the actors are actual students giving testimonials.  They're not.)

How, I wondered, did the Clancy campaign get hold of the evaluations students submit to Miami at the end of the semester?  Those aren't generally made public (at least, not at most schools).  Then the fine print came:  the "evaluations" were culled from a website, "RateMyProfessors," where anonymous students can rate their profs.

The website has no safeguards to ensure that students have actually taken the class of the professor they choose to rate.  Frankly, you or I could create an account and "rate" any professor we wanted to.  And we all know that this kind of website tends to draw angry people; people with something good to say won't generally take the time to search out a website to say it.  And here's a measure of the seriousness of the website:  one of the ratings categories is "hotness."

This is a silly, specious attack ad.  County row office races are often difficult for people to follow intelligently, particularly in a presidential election year.  This is a time that these candidates should be telling us why they're best-suited for the office for which they're running.  Instead, Clancy has chosen to cull together quotes from anonymous (alleged) students at Miami U.  Ridiculous.

Sometimes people have a hard time finding a reason (besides party affiliation) to vote for someone in the races for the more obscure local offices.  But I think this negative, misleading ad will give plenty of folks grounds to vote against Patricia Clancy.  

If you're looking for a reason to vote for Martha, check out the Enquirer's endorsement.  By itself, Dr. Good's pledge to end the tradition of using the Clerk's office as a sanctuary for political patronage is enough to warrant filling in the box next to her name on Tuesday.  Add to it her background and experience with the court system (and her opponent's dearth of legal expertise or experience), and the choice should be clear.

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