November 4, 2006

A slate mailer by any other name?

The Daily Review published an article on November 4, 2006, discussing a controversy about how Julian Polvorosa's name appeared on a mailer from the Eden Area United Democratic Campaign. All of the other candidates appearing on the mailer were endorsed by the Alameda County Democratic Party, but Polvorosa was not endorsed by the Democrats nor was his opponent, Diana Souza. Polvorosa's campaign manager, Shawn Wilson, said, "It's a slate mailer....And by virtue of donations, they were able to get on." However, Robin Torello, chairwoman of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, said that candidates didn't pay to get on this particular mailer. One thing the article fails to note is that Polvorosa's campaign disclosures show a $500 payment to the Eden Area United Democratic Club for campaign literature.

On the same day, the Daily Review also published another article in which Senator Dianne Feinstein complained that Voter Information Guide for Democrats, a slate mailer, used her image without authorization on a slate mailer which endorses positions that she opposes.

Politics and money come together in slate mailers in a way that demonstrates that money trumps everything. For example, the The Early Voter features Republican candidates Tony Strickland, Steve Poizner, and Jill Buck and Democratic candidate Bill Lockyer -- all of whom paid for their listing. Ellen Corbett is also listed, but she didn't pay to be listed. Local candidate Tony Santos paid $1,300 for his listing while Julian Polvorosa paid $600 and School Board candidate Pete Lismer paid $175. The mailer notes "Candidates selected independent of party affiliation" which is another way of saying that the candidates were selected on the basis of who came up with money. Slate mailers take advantage of candidates' desperate need to get their name in front of voters. This slate mailer offers two examples where candidates paid for listing their name, office, occupation, and nothing else: Jill Buck and Julian Polvorosa. Not much there for a voter to use to make a decision.

This year, I paid to appear on a slate mailer as part of my attempt to get elected to the San Leandro School Board. My campaign paid $350 to appear on the Voter Information Guide for Democrats. I had no idea who else would appear on the slate mailer, but I was told it would only include Democrats. Since the slate mailer is not produced by the Democratic Party, any Democrat can pay to appear, so if I had not paid, then my opponent could have paid to appear. The same goes for Tony Santos, Julian Polvorosa, and Pauline Cutter, who also paid to be listed on the slate mailer.

However, the slate mailer also endorsed positions on some propositions with which I disagree. Oh well. But candidates, myself included, will continue to pay to appear on slate mailers, because we think (hope) it will improve our chance at getting elected - or at least reduce our opponent's chance at getting elect.

As a candidate, the biggest reason I can think of to pay for a slate mailer is solely to prevent your opponent from appearing on them. As a voter, slate mailers are pretty much useless - and often can be deceptive. It's yet another way that the current state of election politics is frustrating for candidate and voter alike.

For the record, City Council candidate Diana Souza paid $350 for the California Voter Guide and $1,250 for Your Ballot Guide, City Council candidate Julian Polvorosa paid $150 for the California Latino Voter Guide, $180 for the Asian American Voter slate mailer, and $750 for the Voter Information Guide. Mayoral candidate Tony Santos paid $180 for Asian American Voter Guide and $110 for the California Latino Voter Guide while Mayoral candidate OB Badger paid $555 for the COPS Voter Guide.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at November 4, 2006 12:33 PM | TrackBack
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