2020 has brought an unprecedented set of generational challenges, clear and undeniable.
A global, and worsening, pandemic; an economy in recession, with families in financial turmoil and too many businesses facing uncertain futures — mine included; and issues of racial justice and policing thrust into the national forefront.
Faced with these, and the countless other challenges we face in our everyday lives, we need to be focusing on solutions right now. We need to be coming together to fix what is broken. We need to help, not harm. We need to be talking about what we stand for, less what we stand against.
We don’t need this …
We don’t need personal attacks and negativity, from anyone. Not now. Not ever.
I hate negative political ads, and this race has seen no shortage of them, both against me and against my opponent. I don’t support either, including from organizations supporting me. I stand against all of them.
I know I’m not alone. The attack ads in the presidential race are everywhere. And I’ve seen dozens against other candidates running for Assembly this cycle, some even more disgusting than the ones pictured above.
I’m tired of it, and I bet you are too. We all should be. Let’s be better than this.
Politicians and the organizations that support them should be spending money to build up instead of tear down, to promote a better way. We should be talking about ideas, not Photoshopping my head onto the body of a professional wrestler.
I’m proud to say I have now run seven campaigns and not once issued a negative ad. And I won’t as long as I stay in politics.
Any negative advertising in this campaign against my opponent has come from third parties over which I have no influence, nor should, due to campaign finance laws. I didn’t know they were coming, and if I could have influenced it, I would have.
And in the ads I could have had creative input on — those flowing from my campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin — I have made sure they are positive.
I wish my opponent could stay the same. She can’t. She has taken the low road for weeks.
Shortly after the Republican Party put my face on a $100 bill, there was my opponent turning that into an attack website with her name on it.
And what followed were a collection of ridiculous ads from Jobs First Coalition and the American Federation for Children, the former directly tied to the wife of the Assembly Speaker and the latter supporting the industry (school choice) that employed my opponent before she ran for office. Other third-party groups jumped in, too.
These are the organizations who somehow want to use my support for uniquely celebrating a local icon (Da Crusher) against me; who are telling half-truths on taxes and my plan to stay as mayor when I win on November 3; and claim I am somehow “lining my pockets” from my part-time mayoral position and small business — the one I formed in January after losing my day job.
They are in some ways funny, with the purposely distorted images stolen from my Facebook feed and huge “gotcha” headlines. But they’re more sad than anything else, and they add nothing to the debate.
They are the opposite of the kind of discourse we need in politics in 2020.
To be clear, I can take the negativity, the incessant attacks, and I have for years as mayor of South Milwaukee, including threats on me and my family during the pandemic. These make me stronger, more clear-eyed in my vision, and more resolute toward my goal of bringing positive change to Madison.
We must be better than this. We must demand more from the people we elect to office, and those running to replace them — especially now. Now is not the time to go low.
There is a better way. And, with your support, we will show it on November 3.
By the way, if you want to go beyond the attack ads and get the whole story about who I am, where I stand, and what we’ve accomplished, check out our website.