IN THE last week, the Public Auditor requested that the PA primary race be cancelled claiming that a cost savings of $50,000 would result.
This is probably not a good policy at this point in the election. As it stands now, any person garnering just 4 percent of votes or about 2,000 votes as a write-in might proceed to the general election and I have been told several are interested. If more than one person meets the voting standard and qualifications, it would be the one with the higher number of votes. Unlike partisan elections, this race is designed to narrow the field down to two candidates to allow the 50 percent+1 standard to be met at the general election.
If a primary were not used and a mass of various write-ins were made at the general election lowering the named candidate to below 50 percent, a very costly run-off election would be required. A run-off would be three to five times the amount of the suggested savings by canceling the primary. By the way, I could care less who gets elected in this race, this is a point of basic election politics. The bottom line is political candidates for an office should not be raising gambits related to the structure or process of the race while the race is on. The law of unintended consequences is too strong and changes to process should occur well before or after the election. Otherwise, open the date and drop the 50 percent+1 requirement and make it a plurality election. Both the elected public auditor and elected attorney general positions should be evaluated. It is possible that these positions would function better as executive appointees.
Negative campaigning on Guam is a subject I work on a lot because it crosses over to several other areas of research interest. Negative efforts are a part of every governor’s race and they occasionally pop up in legislative races. There are a number of factors that come into play for negative campaigns and I will cover some of these today.
First, any negative campaign effort can readily backfire on Guam. The reason is pretty simple. We actually know many of the candidates directly and this direct connection short circuits most negative campaign techniques used.
Second, any negative campaign has to reflect the truth and these truths have to be policy or position related. Bogus allegations about family members don’t work. Personal attacks don’t work. The concern raised must reflect an issue that is important to the public, not trivial policy concerns.
Third, negative campaigns must be simple and easy to understand. I remember a few years ago, there was an attack ad against a candidate that featured an ad that had all sorts of flashing documents that were nearly impossible to read and the ads never really made clear what the concern really was.
Fourth, negative campaign contents must have a ringing or repeatable quality to them. This both reinforces the message and creates additional public circulation of the information.
Fifth, facts are always trumped by humor. In 1996, a negative campaign developed after a hot-headed senator throwing hot chili on the Speaker. The speaker was then reported to have chased after the senator with a folding chair. It was as if a WWF script was being followed at the Legislature. If the speaker had just picked up the phone and filed a police report, this would have been just an unfortunate incident involving a political figure getting scalded by hot chili. But because of the chair-chasing, food-fight humor involved, this incident created several negative dynamics that facts could not overcome.