Thursday, October 04, 2012

Fallin photo on Democrat legislator's mailer stirs controversy

A recent campaign mailer from State Rep. Wade Rousselot (D-Okay) has caused a bit of a stir among some Republicans, due to the prominent featuring of Governor Mary Fallin (R) on the mail piece - which can give the implication that Fallin is supporting Rousselot's reelection bid against Republican candidate David Tackett.

The former head of 'Oklahomans for Liberty', Tackett has at times clashed heads with Gov. Fallin and Republican legislative leadership over legislation and policies he considers to be corporate welfare, unconstitutional, or against conservative principles. Rousselot is one of the few Democrat candidates that the Oklahoma State Chamber, a strong supporter/ally of Gov. Fallin, is supporting this year.

Governor Fallin has not officially endorsed in the House District 12 race, and according to Tackett, the Republican State House Committee has not lent him any support, leading his supporters to cry foul. For their part, the Governor doesn't endorse in every race, and the House PAC doesn't always spend money on every nominee.

Nevertheless, when the Democrat nominee uses the Governor's photo in an attempt to 'ride the coattails' of the top Republican in the state (Fallin has an approval rating of 69.3%), the Governor should publicly state her support for the Republican nominee.

Candidates often try to align themselves with popular figures by using pictures of the candidate with the other individual. More often than not, the picture was never intended to be used for campaign purposes, and usually the other person is unaware that they are being used by the candidate. As I have said previously, using a photo like this passes off a false impression, and attributes action to someone who never did what was implied.

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words". Usually, when a candidate is shown with someone else on a campaign mailer, that implies an endorsement. When no such endorsement exists, it is unethical to give off the impression to unsuspecting voters, and just isn't commonsense.

I'm sure Governor Fallin never intended for voters to assume that she supports a Democrat nominee over a Republican nominee; however, she can rectify the situation with a simple paragraph expressing her support for the GOP candidate. When a mailer like this has so publicly muddled the truth about who she is supporting in House District 12, Governor Fallin should move quickly to clarify the situation, and join Sen. Tom Coburn in publicly endorsing David Tackett, the Republican nominee.


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