Character-attack ads in Summit County disgusted state House candidates
Ryan Summerlin November 6, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY ” After a bitterly fought campaign overshadowed by outside attack ads, both victorious state Rep. Christine Scanlan and her vanquished challenger Ali Hasan called for campaign reforms.
Hasan, a Beaver Creek Republican, said that while he doubts the ads “pandering toward racist intentions” cost him a shot at representing House District 56, they certainly didn’t help him.
“We knew there was potential for negative mailers,” he said, adding that his door-to-door, in-person campaigning allowed him to make personal connections “to the point that any negative ads would backfire.”
Mailers from Accountability for Colorado, a so-called 527 group, included his Islamic first name, Muhammad, despite its absence from the campaign and the ballot.
Other flyers included hints that Hasan is against allowing women to seek mammograms and other fear-mongering tactics, according to Hasan.
“My mother is working on a movement against Accountability for Colorado,” he said. “I felt the mailers had racist undertones, and they were slanderous.”
Representatives of Accountability for Colorado did not return phone calls Thursday.
Scanlan, D-Summit Cove, said she, too, disagrees with the loophole allowing such groups’ operation, especially since it’s outside the candidates’ knowledge or control.
She first found out about the fliers when one appeared in her mailbox on the Thursday before Election Day.
“What it shows is that we need real campaign-finance reform,” Scanlan said. “This has been a consequence of that effort that is not working.”
She also said the mailers’ impact was likely minimal, as most of Colorado had already voted by the time they received them.
“They just cast a negative shadow at the end of the race,” she said. “I’m the one who had to deal with people who are upset that the tone of the campaign had gone very negative with those mailers.”
Leading up to Election Day, Hasan’s campaign ” funded mostly through personal money ” had amassed about four times the finances of Scanlan’s. His signs, advertisements, tote bags and appearances made Hasan one of the district’s most familiar faces.
Hasan said that if the 527 groups, named after a provision in federal tax code, are still active in the next six or more years ” when he foresees another possible political run ” they certainly will be a campaign topic. He said there must be reform or at least a ban.
“They’re absolutely ruining politics,” he said. “This is wrong.”
The groups take money from a variety of individuals, political groups and businesses. Hasan questioned whether people should buy products from the major retailers listed as contributors on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.
But regarding his loss in the political race, Hasan said his party is most to blame.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this bad of a year for Republicans,” he said, adding that his campaign fared better than many others. “But I’m loyal to my party and still celebrate (President Ronald) Reagan.”
Hasan said that from the race he has gained a better understanding of the importance of building trust, which he learned through knocking on doors and standing on street corners.
He plans to continue involvement with Summit, Lake and Eagle counties and possibly to get plans for an Interstate-70 monorail on the ballot in coming years.