Negative campainging clouds presidential race

With less than a week before student elections, anonymous groups circulated negative e-mail and fliers concerning the race for Student Association president.

An e-mail was sent from a Hotmail e-mail account to selected students from an organization calling itself “Students Against Patrick Macmanus.” The e-mail made defamatory remarks against Macmanus, an SA presidential candidate.

“We, Students Against Patrick Macmanus, urge you to VOTE AGAINST this pompous, arrogant, elitist `insider,’ ” the e-mail read.

“I think that it’s a sad statement of the lengths people would go to win a student body election,” Macmanus said. He said he believes workers from another presidential campaign were responsible.

“When he showed it to me, I felt horrible for him,” said Sabina Siddiqui, a presidential candidate. She said she is certain no member of her campaign is responsible for the e-mail, and she said voters will not be turned off by it.

“You have to realize how political this school is,” Siddiqui said. “I’m not sure whether people will take it seriously.”

Terry Goddard, chair of the Joint Elections Committee said he can do nothing about the e-mail unless it came from a presidential campaign.

“I think it’s kind of juvenile,” Goddard said. “If an individual really doesn’t want a candidate elected, that person should support another or run themselves.”

He said he is investigating the incident, but would not comment on specifics. He said so far the e-mail has not been linked to any campaign.

“I think its ridiculous,” said Carrie Potter, a presidential candidate. “It blows my mind how certain things come out and that someone would actually fabricate an e-mail like this.”

Potter has indirectly been the target of similar attacks, after an organization named Bad Election ErroRs criticized the way endorsements were held by Potter supporters.

In a flyer passed around campus last week, BEER accused the College Democrats of using weighted votes to help control which candidates were endorsed.

“For at least four years, board members traditionally have had two votes in endorsement hearings,” said Adam Green, events director for CDs.

Green denied the accusation that board members were the ones who tabulated endorsement ballots. He said an unaffiliated member of CDs tallied the votes, which gave Potter the presidential endorsement.

“I think what they’re trying to accomplish is a discreditation of our endorsements,” Green said. “Our endorsements were given due to landslide votes by members.”

In the flyer, BEER claimed to serve “as a truth squad for the benefit of GW students and the GW community” and said it does not support any candidate.

Both Macmanus and Potter said they did not want the campaign to come down to this.

“That is not the way I wanted my campaign to be run and I can’t imagine someone else wanting their campaign to be run that way,” Macmanus said.

“I wish we could focus on the positive aspects of the campaign and the candidates,” Potter said.

Goddard said he is concerned negative campaigning may have an impact on voter turnout.

“I think actions such as these, if they come to light and are picked up by the general populous, will certainly go to making more students disinterested in the system,” Goddard said.

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