Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Code Talkers

Part of the packet of materials candidates file when they run for office is the Code of Fair Campaign Practices. The Code is a voluntary, non-binding pledge created by the state legislature and administered by the State Board of Elections. It gives candidates an opportunity to forswear negative campaigning and other unsavory practices; it allows candidates to declare that they intend to take the high road on the campaign trail.

But not many candidates signed on to the Code when they filed their petitions. Of 421 petitions filed yesterday, only 148, or about a third, came with the Code. We hope this doesn’t mean a nasty campaign season is in our future.

Who didn’t sign the Code? It’s easier to say who did. Of the Democratic statewide filers, only Paul Mangieri turned one in. Of the Republican statewide hopefuls, only state Sen. Bill Brady and Jeremy Cole filed the Code. Jeremy Cole, you say? Yes, Jeremy Cole, of Canton, Illinois, who’s running for Lt.. Gov.

Campaigns are supposed to be a dialogue about where the state should go, with an emphasis on voter education and finding common ground. All too often, though, they can become painful to watch, bringing out the worst in candidates and turning voters away from the process. One sitting state rep, who filed petitions but not a Code, told the Tribune, "This is the friendliest you'll see the candidates be for a few months. It's like a prefight weigh-in." We hope he’s wrong, and that those filers who did not sign the Code will reconsider. Signing the Code is one sign that candidates want to change the tone of state politics. We hope more of them will do so.

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