THE BLOG

Washington State Democrats Push the Negative - Somewhat Ineffectually

09/28/2010 01:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap might serve as the soundtrack for theRealRossi.com, a recent website from the Washington State Democrats. Coffee stained folders paper-clipped with photos of Rossi and George W. Bush serve as the background for a series of charges against Republican candidate Dino Rossi.

The website's categories include Connect the Dots, Damages, Associates, and Just Like W. Several sections rely on the infographic: "Damages" provides a Harpers-esque series of number related factoids while "Just Like W" lists seven major points of similarity with George W. Bush for those who have missed the significance of his face next to Rossi's in the header.

Chief among the charges RealRossi.com puts forth against Rossi are: corporate interests have the candidate under control, he's funded by conservative groups such as the American Action Network, the Building Industry Association of Washington, the Committee for Truth in Politics, among others; he's only harmed Washington families, police officers, small business owners, and teachers; he's anti-gay, anti-environment, and anti-women's rights.

Sadie Weiner, Deputy Communications Director for the Washington State Democrats, said that the site's intent was to shed a spotlight "on the checkered history and extreme positions of Dino Rossi" and his "lockstep rightwing Republican positions, shady business connections, and corporate lobbyist friends".

The site may not be the most effective means of doing so, though. The simplistic design lacks the polish that Rossi's official site, which is how his campaign disseminates similar information about Murray, displays. Hampering the Democratic site further are factors such as its ineffective use of current web technologies - no way to comment, no subscription options other than RSS feed, no tie-in with Twitter or other social media buttons, no ability to easily repost links to the site.

The Murray-Rossi campaigns have both featured plenty of negative advertising, and used the Web to spread it. A black-backgrounded Murray ad tells the viewer that Rossi "backs repeal of Wall Street Reform."

Rossi counters by attacking Murray for "D.C. style attack ads that don't tell the truth" amid murky infographics and queasily-lit video of plummeting dollars. See video below:

Negative advertising has become a meta-complaint in this tight race. Recent controversy over a statement Rossi made that Airbus illegal subsidies has prompted another clash of attack ads, Rossi's black-bordered ad accusing Murray of ignoring Boeing job losses in the state while launching "a false attack ad." Although both candidates have been the target of negative advertising, only Murray has supported the DISCLOSE Act, recently defeated in the U.S. Senate. The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, which failed 59-39 with no Republican support, required grass roots organizations to publicly list all donations of $600 or more. It would affect shadow groups such as Americans For Prosperity, Americans United, or The Committee for Truth in Politics, recently investigated by CBS for its ads attacking Patty Murray. See video below: