Anybody who’s been involved in politics knows that political signs get stolen. It’s illegal, unethical, and immature behavior when campaign staff or volunteers do it, but it’s unfortunately almost become part of the process nowadays. That’s why I wrote a post a couple weeks ago wondering why the Fairfax County Republican Party was taking something that impacts candidates from both major parties and claiming sign theft was somehow part of “the leftist agenda.”
Perhaps the most coordinated discussion about yard signs being stolen can be found in the aftermath of someone stealing signs from Andi Bayer’s yards. Bayer is running for school board from the Providence District and has apparently had so many signs taken from her yard that she installed a video camera in an attempt to catch whoever’s responsible. It’s truly unfortunate it got to that point, but they’ve now being using the situation as a way to smear other candidates.
This is especially the case in the Sully District, where the Sully Republicans highlighted one of my blog posts by claiming it was part of “a leftist agenda” before adding “and please, whoever it is, stop stealing Andi Bayer’s signs. You’re on video now.” Why would they bring this up in response to someone living outside Bayer’s district unless they wanted to imply that individual stole the signs as part of their “leftist agenda.”
It should be noted that while Andi Bayer and the Fairfax County Republican Party have been complaining about her yard signs, she’s the same candidate who claimed LGBT students are “the loudest special interest group” and aren’t bullied, said we waste money on mental health and teacher training, claimed “we’re victimizing our children” when we talk about discrimination, and said there can’t actually be discrimination in Fairfax County because we have a lot of ethnic restaurants.
But just in case you’re think the Republicans are justified in their claim that they’re the only ones having campaign materials stolen, we have an update from Creigh Deeds down in Albemarble County. After plenty of Democrats all across Virginia have spoken about their campaign materials being stolen or destroyed (presumably by people who oppose Democrats), we now have direct video evidence of a candidate stealing campaign literature of a Democratic candidate.
Elliot Harding is running against incumbent state Senator Creigh Deeds, served as an aid to Rep. Tom Garrett, and has been active with the Albemarle Republican Party. It’s therefore reasonable to assume he knows it’s not kosher (and is actually illegal) to steal your opponent’s campaign lit while you’re out canvassing. Nonetheless, he was caught red handed doing just that.
While it’s never acceptable for people to destroy or steal campaign material, it should also be noted that this isn’t some young hooligan trying to be funny or a volunteer who wants to limit the visibility of the other party’s candidate. This is the candidate himself and he’s been involved in the political process for a long time.
One of the reasons I bring this up is because the Republicans in Fairfax County and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia have been using a misinformation campaign throughout this election cycle to claim they’re being bullied and Democrats are lying to you. Tom Wilson, who represents the Sully District on the Fairfax County School Board, even tried to connect his opponent to some of his campaign literature being scattered throughout a neighborhood. Despite all those claims, this is yet another example of how it’s actually conservative candidates who have been dishonest and using petty campaign tactics.
Now that there’s video evidence of the pettiness conservative candidates are involved in when they think nobody’s looking, they’re getting directly called out on it.
“Our opponent’s campaign has been grounded in dishonesty from its inception while capitalizing on personal, cruel attacks including old pictures of Sen. Deeds’ son,” Cassie Ardern, Deeds’ campaign manager, said in a statement. “Our volunteers give up their free time to work long, hard hours for the causes and people they are passionate about. Mr. Harding owes them, the homeowner, and the Albemarle Democratic Party and apology for his actions.”
Since there’s a history of literature and signs for Democratic candidates magically disappearing, Ardern added “we would also ask that he return any remaining literature he has, since this does not appear to be a singular incident.”
When it comes down to it, stealing campaign literature and yard signs is simply immature and folks on both sides of the aisle should have enough common decency to avoid doing it. But with the Republicans trying to use this as an example of some sort of vast left wing conspiracy and portray Democratic candidates as unethical, they have to be held accountable when there’s direct video evidence of conservative candidates stealing their opponent’s campaign literature.
(h/t to Lowell Feld over at Blue Virginia)