Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan and City Attorney Barbara Parker, who both had been viciously attacked in negative campaign ads by their opponents and by the police union, are fighting back with ads of their own. Kaplan began broadcasting a TV ad last night on MSNBC and other cable stations, slamming her challenger, Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, for a series of hit-piece mailers he sent to voters that grossly distorted her record in office. Parker struck back with a hard-hitting mailer against her challenger, Councilwoman Jane Brunner, noting that Brunner is a career politician who lacks the legal experience necessary for the job of city attorney.
Kaplan and Parker were compelled to respond to the attack ads by De La Fuente, Brunner, and the police union because of concerns that their negative campaigning might be effective. Research shows that negative political ads work best when the candidates being attacked fail to respond.
The Kaplan TV ad, which was broadcast repeatedly last night during MSNBC’s liberal primetime lineup, features the councilwoman setting the record straight about her record on public safety in Oakland. Kaplan notes in the ad that De La Fuente was the primary backer of the 2010 police layoffs, which she opposed, and that he helped kill a plan that she and other councilmembers proposed last year to rehire all the laid-off cops who were still looking for jobs.
Unlike the highly misleading mailers that De La Fuente and the police union used to attack Kaplan, her TV ad also happens to be true. Her ad points to news stories in the Express, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Oakland Tribune that substantiate her assertions about her record and that of De La Fuente.
Likewise, Parker’s new mailer also points to news reports in the Express and the Tribune to set the record straight and to counter the highly misleading attacks by Brunner and the police union. Parker’s mailer points out, for example, that Brunner also voted for the 2010 police layoffs. The mailer also notes that Brunner had had her law license suspended.
Although it's late in the election season to respond to negative attacks, Kaplan and Parker benefit from the fact that they both enjoyed substantial leads in the polls before De La Fuente, Brunner, and the police union launched their barrage of hit pieces. According to a late September poll commissioned by the Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition, Kaplan led De La Fuente 39 percent to 23 percent, and Parker was ahead of Brunner 49 percent to 31 percent.
Here is the Parker mailer: