Sen. Haugen decries 'red baiting' in Senate race
October 16, 2008 · Updated 12:07 PM
A political "hit piece" mailed to voters in the 10th District has Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen seeing red. And plenty of others, too.
The flier, which started arriving in mailboxes Monday, is titled "New Leadership 1982" and features a picture of Haugen side-by-side with Yuri Andropov, the former head of the KGB who became the general secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union after the death of Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, the year Haugen first took office as a state representative.
Haugen, who is facing a reelection challenge by Oak Harbor Republican Linda Haddon for the 10th District Senate seat, was outraged at being labeled a communist.
"This is called red baiting," Haugen said. "It's just so unbelievable that they would stoop so low."
"This is the first time anyone has ever questioned my patriotism," Haugen said, recalling her family's tradition of service for their country. Her father served in World War I, and Haugen has three brothers who served in World War II, plus another in Korea and another in Vietnam.
"To think that their sister would be a communist is unconscionable," she added. "You can beat me up on my votes, but don't question my patriotism."
The flier was distributed by the Citizens Action Group, a political action committee based in Bellevue that was formed on Oct. 3.
Ryan Clark, the group's treasurer, was not available for comment Thursday.
The mailer was prepared by Pinnacle Direct, Inc., a direct-mail firm based in Stillwater, Minn. that has worked extensively with Republican campaigns.
The Citizens Action Group paid Pinnacle $59,597 over the past week, according to records on file with the state Public Disclosure Commission. That amount included $27,573 for postage and $10,064 for printing the direct-mail piece.
The Citizens Action Group has raised $375,000 to spend on the election this year, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Of that amount, $50,000 was donated by The Reagan Fund, a political action committee formed by the Washington State House Republicans, on Oct. 9 and Oct. 13.
The rest of the group's campaign war chest, $325,000, came in contributions made on Oct. 7, Oct. 10 and Oct. 13 by the Leadership Council, a political action committee run by Senate Republicans.
Haddon said she received the mailer in her mailbox Wednesday.
"It did not come from me," Haddon said.
"I had no knowledge of it; it is not from my campaign. I really can't comment any more," she said.
Haugen said the mailer came up as an issue during a voters' forum Wednesday in Stanwood, and Haugen said Haddon denied any involvement in the flier.
"My opponent said, 'I had nothing to do with it, I didn't know anything about it,'" Haugen said.
Haugen also said she is being targeted by Senate and House Republicans this year, and she expects attacks on her voting record.
"I'm a big girl, I expect that sort of stuff. But don't attack my patriotism; don't attack my loyalty to my country."
Haugen said she has never resorted to negative campaigning. She recalled her first shot at a House seat in Olympia, when the Democratic Party offered to print mailers for her campaign. She was surprised when the materials were delivered to her home to be sent out, and she saw it was a "hit piece" that had been prepared.
"I built a fire and I burned every piece," she said. "I learned there that you don't have to be negative to win."
Haugen said she expects more attacks in the coming weeks.
"This is just the first; there will be three or more pieces. But you know what? People know who I am. I am their neighbor; I am their friend; I am the person who stands up and fights for them and I will always do that, no matter what. My district always comes first for me."