Our view: Clean campaigns are winners


We gave the candidates for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District an opportunity to make a direct appeal to voters on our opinion pages Thursday.

Greg Walcher, the Republican candidate, spent much of his space attacking John Salazar. Salazar, on the other hand, stuck to his personal views and presented information on his legislative priorities if elected.

We think that's the way to run a campaign. That's not to say we're endorsing Salazar, because as a general rule, we don't endorse political candidates. Our philosophy is to present information to readers and let them draw their own conclusions about the best man for the job. (By the way, Salazar has made his own attacks on Walcher in other venues.)

But, like many voters, we're unnerved by the number of negative ads that are running in newspapers and on television. The bigger the race, the nastier the campaign.

We think attack ads are a disservice to voters. Unfortunately, they're highly effective in engaging voters. As political strategists have learned, people are more likely to vote when they're upset about an issue. It's more of a motivator for getting people to the polls.

That means candidates have to make a commitment to rise above mudslinging and not do the easy thing, which is to attack opponents.

But if candidates for office spend all their time and energy tearing each other down, it leaves us -- the voters -- uninformed about how they stand on the issues. We've been asking people to vote and be informed voters, but the candidates can make this a difficult chore when they won't clearly articulate their positions on issues.

Perhaps more voters would be inclined to head to the booths if they didn't feel that negative campaigning would make it so difficult to make a fair choice. Although anger encourages people to vote, it certainly doesn't encourage them to vote wisely, and all politicians should be concerned about that.

Luckily, we've been spared from negative campaigning in local races.

Unless things go drastically downhill between now and Election Day, Moffat County voters will have been treated to a clean campaign.

Perhaps it's a function of small-town life, where the candidates will have to live with what they've said about their opponents beyond the outcome of the election.

Whatever the reason, the candidates for county commissioner have staked out their positions without trying to make the other guy look like an idiot or a liar.

And we appreciate that.

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