For the November 8, 2022 General Election, I decided to focus on the elections happening in my community. Everyone and their mother had something to say about the San Luis Obispo County races. My mailbox was deluged with countless glossy mailers featuring the candidates.
What was conspicuously absent from my influx of mail was all the bizarre negative campaign mailers focused on the District 2 race. Until recently when the district maps were successfully gerrymandered to benefit Republicans — with a legal case pending to potentially overturn it — District 2 included my hometown of Morro Bay. I didn’t get any of those mailers, but I read about them in The Tribune.
SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow donated $25,000 from his Dan Dow for District Attorney 2022 campaign account to Back the Badge, a politically right-leaning political action committee that haphazardly labeled Gibson “pro-crime” without evidence to back that claim up. Back the Badge was previously involved in the District 4 race, taking aim at now Supervisor-Elect Jimmy Paulding for allegedly voting to raise taxes during his tenure on the Arroyo Grande City Council, a claim that also lacked any evidentiary foundation.
But that’s what political action committees do. They inject hyperbole and partisanship into races that should be nonpartisan, but they’re unfortunately not. Because of the current tenor of political discourse nationally, we always have to expect and prepare for misinformation and disinformation. Time and time again, misinformation has been shown to sway the results in highly contentious races between contentious candidates, so Back the Badge is going for a strategy they believe will work. Well, their strategy didn’t work in District 4, that’s for sure. But they saw an opportunity to potentially shave off any moderate voters thinking of casting their vote for District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson.
Then I saw this flier.
Another political action committee, Safer San Luis Obispo County, circulated this flier, claiming without evidence that Supervisor Gibson was the so-called “puppetmaster” for the late District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill, who committed suicide while in office in August 2020. The late supervisor was later revealed to have courted and accepted bribes…