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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bizarre Robo-call Attacks Congressman Thompson

Given the dynamics of this year, it would take a lot for us to have to cover to Congressional Race at all. Congressman Mike Thompson is a well-known and respected member of Congress in a safe district that extends from Yolo County through Napa County to the coast and all the way up to the Oregon Border.

His opponent is a 27-year old graduate of UC Davis.

This story is just simply bizarre. A robo-call that went out to voters across the district heard a "breathy woman intone" that "Mike Thompson's been a bad boy."

As the Capitol Alert describes:
"With a seductive voice more suited to an escort service than political outreach, the woman suggestively urges listeners to "vote 'yesssss' for Zane," the Republican challenger to Thompson, a Democratic congressman."
Zane Starkewolf, the 27-year old Republican nominee and a graduate of UC Davis, apologized in an interview with the Sacramento Bee for the message and said he "took full responsibility" for the calls, which he said went out to 100,000 phone numbers across the district.
"Starkewolf said he provided the text and the idea (He wanted "something to be impactful," he said), but an unpaid staffer recorded the message and "she took a little liberty with how she interpreted the text."

Still, in the interview and in a statement on his Web site, Starkewolf defended the call.

"I believe it is good to get enthusiasm back into politics," he wrote on his site. "...And if a message needs to go out that is "appalling" in a sense in order to get the discussion going, then I believe it is a worthy cause."


Starkwolf said voters should be more appalled with Thompson's vote for the bailout than his call.

"They have to pay $3,000 (per person) for this bailout and they are more worried about this phone call," he said in frustration.

As for parents worried about children answering his robo-call, Starkewolf said they were "not looking at the financial costs their children will have to deal with" due to the bailout Congress passed."
There are probably better ways to get across a message of concern about the bailout. The story is now not about his message but about his methods. The first rule in politics is not to step on your message.

On the other hand, we would not be talking about this race at all except for the bizarreness of this story. So he's probably in a no-win situation, a catch-22.

Just yesterday he had a typical bio-article run in the California Aggie. He is a UCD alumnus and currently a graduate student in chemistry. He describes himself as a "green Republican" and pushes a variety of green issues although overall he is more of a libertarian.

Just another day in the People's Republic of Davis I suppose except this one is a Republican.

---David M. Greenwald reporting