It's clear that candidates for legislative offices in Ventura County districts have been reading their campaign textbooks. In the last couple of weeks they've pulled out a couple of the classics by issuing invitations that they are relatively certain their opponents will decline, but that put them on the high road.
Exhibit A was a letter from former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara to her 19th Senate District Democratic opponent, Jason Hodge, requesting that he join her in signing a pledge in which the candidates mutually agree "not to attack each other during the campaign" and to run only on their own records and positions.
It's an old ploy. Hodge, who did not respond to Jackson's proposal, called it a "silly distraction" and a "Groundhog's Day" example of the rote ritual of "the failed politics I've been talking about."
But in this case, Jackson was provoked. It was Hodge who earlier issued an "open letter" to Jackson supporters alerting them that someone had engaged an opposition research operative in Sacramento to submit public records requests to the Oxnard Harbor District trying to dig up some dirt on him. That was a clever move, but Hodge overstepped by referring to the operative -- basically, a political hack -- as a "private investigator." That's a precise term (actual private investigators must be licensed) for snoops who typically are engaged in tracking down potentially criminal activities.
In response, Jackson sought to regain the high ground by issuing the pledge -- which, she noted, could be jettisoned in the event that an independent expenditure committee launched negative ads. In that case, she noted, all rules would be off and the candidates could respond in kind.
In any event, the pledge was offered and refused and now the candidates might move on to something like...
Exhibit B: 38th Assembly District Republican candidate Scott Wilk today issued a challenge to fellow Republican Patrician McKeon to engage in 10 "Lincoln-Douglas style": debates in the district between now and the June 5 primary.
As with the clean campaign pledge, don't hold your breath waiting for McKeon to respond.