There is a fight over ethics and campaign fiance reform in the race State Senate race between Republican incumbent Missy Irvin and her Democratic challenger Zac White. One thing I've learned about campaigns is that when it comes to fights over campaign finance reform, voters rarely care.
Today, challenger Zac White issued a press release pledging to introduce sweeping ethics reform if elected. His release said in part:
“While I was working on the ground to gather signatures in support of a statewide initiative to clean up government, my opponent, State Sen. Melissa Irvin, continues to collect thousands of dollars from corporations and special interests who want to buy her vote.”
Later in the day, Irvin fired back her own press release accusing White of hypocrisy for taking one corporate contribution from a law firm. White says he has returned the contribution.
I'm sure there will likely be more back-and-forth on this issue during this campaign, and that is unfortunate becaus
e there is merit to some of White's proposals.
It's unfortunate because the campaigns are arguing over an issue that voters don't put high on their priority list. If the ethics reform ballot initiative, championed by the Better Ethics Now Committee, had made the ballot this year, it likely would have passed by a large margin, but that doesn't mean that is what is on voters' minds this year.
The plumber in Paragould or the teacher in Texarkana know there must be changes in the system, but it's not what weighs on their minds. Educating their children, having a good-paying job with benefits, and having access to affordable health care are just some of issues that weigh on voters' minds — not which politician took money from whom.
In the end, and in an ideal world, campaigns should debate the issues voters care about and avoid arguments over the process of campaigns. While the latter gets newspaper/blog mentions, it's a sound and fury signifying nothing.