The Negative Campaign of the Year (So Far)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 22 2014 9:49 AM

The Negative Campaign of the Year (So Far)

It must be that of Bob Wieckowski for a precious seat in the California state Senate. (The megastate's upper house seats represent more people than most U.S. House districts). He's facing former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, who, in 2011, was caught leaving Nieman Marcus with $2,445 in clothes. This ended her career, for a little while, and in order to keep Hayashi buried, Wieckowski has started a #dontvoteforcriminals hashtag and purchased MugShotMary.com—where, you know, you can see her mugshot.

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Hayashi's attorney claimed, at the time, that the assemblywoman only acted stupidly because a benign brain tumor affected her reasoning. The Wieckowski campaign was ready for that, and has clipped—two weeks before the election—the surveillance video of Hayashi walking through the store and then being apprehended.

Hayashi doesn't seem crazy in the video, according to the rival campaign. This, apparently, is meant to oblivate Hayashi's answers to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, where she moved from the brain tumor story and focused on how she "offered to pay immediately" for the clothes.

That would be a good enough video for the rival campaign ... but just in case, team Wiecowski edited its own version of the clip, darkening the video, to make it look like Hayashi was being interrogated by the cast of a CSI spinoff.

Half of me wants to see where else this can go in the final stretch of campaigning. Half of me is terrified.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.