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Spin Control

Vaughn Ward takes his lumps. Are they deserved?

Talking Points Memo, a liberal news blog, has hung the title of worst candidate ever on Vaughn Ward, who is running in the GOP primary in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District.

In part, it’s due to a video that shows Ward saying some of the same things another young politician said in 2004. So what, you say, politicians borrow each other’s lines all the time? Well, the young politician was Barack Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention, so that’s not a good thing for someone running in a Republican primary in Idaho. It also lists some of Ward’s other mistakes, many chronicled expertly by colleague Betsy Russell at Eye on Boise.

But it seems TPM is picking on Ward and, by extension, Idaho, just a bit. I mean really, worst ever? On the same page, they mention that J.D. Hayworth, running for the Senate in the Arizona Republican primary, insisted that the United States didn’t declare war on Nazi Germany in 1941, and that’s probably even in history books in Texas. And then his staff tried to parse history in such a way that well, you could argue we did or we didn’t, so no one’s really right or wrong on this point.

And Richard Blumenthal, running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, lied about serving in Vietnam and being captain of the Harvard swim team — two things that are so easy to check it’s amazing it took reporters so long to call him out on them. And he’s the state’s attorney general for gosh sakes. Compared to that, cribbing from Obama (who is, after all a good speaker; even John McCain said so) and suggesting Puerto Rico is a country might be small potatoes.

Washington has it’s share of bad candidates too, like Robert Tilden Medley, a U.S. Senate candidate who wanted to deport all immigrants, send all African Americans to Africa and fund AIDS research by charging gay men to have sex. (Spin Control is not making this up; we don’t have that good of an imagination.)

The title of the worst candidate ever would have to be decided by a playoff with brackets, sort of like the NCAA basketball championship, with divisions for local, state, congressional and presidential.

Who would you put as the top seed in one or more of those brackets for the worst candidate competition?

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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