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Forrest Campaign Accuses Howell of 'Dirty Politics'

Howell campaign said background research, tracking standard practice in politics

Campaign officials for Patrick Forrest, the Republican candidate for the 32nd District seat for state Senate, accused incumbent Sen. Janet Howell of engaging in "Chicago-style dirty politics" in a statement Tuesday.

The Forrest campaign took issue with the Howell campaign's Freedom of Information Act request for his personal military ID number and all of his personal and military records.

"Maybe if Janet spent as much time investigating the costs and impact of the Dulles rail plan, as she has on her political opponents, the residents of Northern Virginia wouldn't be staring at the possibility of $20 tolls on the Dulles toll road to pay for her mistakes and failed leadership," wrote Buck Cram, campaign manager of the Patrick Forrest for Senate Campaign, in the statement.

The statement said Howell was not running a campaign based on accomplishment from her 20 years in the state Senate and instead using "thug tactics mastered by the Chicago machine to draw
attention away from her failures."

The Forrest campaign also claimed Howell "had one of her campaign staffers stalking Patrick Forrest with a video camera and confronting him in public."

"Every negative assault from Senator Howell and her cronies only proves how out of touch Janet Howell has become with the needs of this district," Cram wrote.

The Howell campaign refutes the negative characterization and said exploring the background of someone new on the political scene is standard practice during elections.

"Because Patrick Forrest has never run for office before, we felt it was important to learn as much as possible about him and where he stands so voters in the district can have a clear choice," said Nick Kowalski, Howell's campaign manager. "All campaigns do opposition research. We knew he had voted in Democratic primaries in the past and he's running as a Republican, so we felt we needed to learn as much as possible about him and where he stands on issues."

Kowalski also said having volunteers — the Howell campaign said it was not a staffer — track opponents at public events is standard practice, especially since the Allen-Webb U.S. Senate campaign in 2006 where a Webb volunteer caught the now famous "macaca" moment on tape.

"Clearly Patrick is new to the rodeo here. Even Republicans in Fairfax are doing it right now," Kowalski said. "Not only is doing opposition research and tracking candidates pretty standard practice on all campaigns now, the seminal moment to show how important that is for a race happened here in Virginia."

Because of this year's redistricting, the state Senate's 32nd District now contains parts of Oakton and Vienna.

Buck Cram July 21, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Janet Howell's response embodies everything that voters in this area have come to loathe about politics: ignoring the issues and focusing on personal attacks is somehow excusable because it is business as usual. There is nothing standard about Janet Howell's extensive and personal Freedom of Information Act request asking for Patrick's personal military ID number and having people follow him with cameras. These strategies are unnecessary and old school dirty politics. Patrick is not your business as usual candidate. If you want a fresh, independent voice in the Senate who will fight for the residents of Northern Virginia, I would encourage you to learn more about Patrick by visiting www.Forrest2011.com. Buck Cram Campaign Manager Forrest for Senate
Pepper Miller July 21, 2011 at 11:00 PM
The Republican in the race, knows enough about politics to cross party lines, but doesn't understand the importance of opposition research (FOIA is only part of it) and tracking? Something doesn't add up. Come back and run when you're serious.
Robert Garcia July 22, 2011 at 03:35 AM
I'm so tired of these career politicians that keep thinking that business as usual is OK. I know politics, and this is excessively dirty. If an incumbent senator thinks its more important to look into the personal life of her opponent, than to focus on issues and what she plans to do for her district, then we need a new senator, even one that is "new to the rodeo". At some point negative personal attacks in politics need to stop!
Joseph Isabelle July 22, 2011 at 08:37 AM
Sen. Howell: Enough is Enough! It is clear by the statements of your surrogates just now much your contempt for the intelligence of your so-called constituents lies just below the surface, or perhaps you just don't think we are all as "wise" as you. This is the offensive "business as usual" political garbage that will prevent me from voting for anymore career-politicians, it is time for fresh voices in all levels of our government. This truly shows the failure in representation that embodies your two decades in office. Senator Howell, you have had twenty years to try and get it right, you have had your shot, this is not a lifetime position. If you truly care anything about the resident's of Northern Virginia I urge you: please step aside with some grace and humility. I am sick of campaigns run by guys who have never lived and worked in Northern Virginia with us and then add insult to injury by characterizing what is at stake for us as "the rodeo." Mr. Kowlaski, your comments are offensive and rude. This is no "rodeo," nor another one of your "business as usual" political games to play. These are our lives, and our families at stake. If Patrick Forrest is "new to the rodeo" then he has my vote 10 times over. I invite my neighbors in this community to join me at the Ballot Box in sending a message to Howell and other career-politicians that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! And 20 years is certainly enough.
Amanda Bivens July 22, 2011 at 11:56 PM
People in glass house should not throw stones! Lol It it was common for personal lives to be thrown into the mix in local politics, then certainly Patrick Forrest's people would bring up how Janet Howell's husband Hunt was a onetime poll worker at the Aldrin Precinct Polling Place....... that is until he was caught red-handed in 2003 tearing down the campaign signs of her Republican Opponent at the Polling Place! Not only under-handed, but I am fairly sure that is a violation of some law in Virginia. Give the voters a chance to decide. Geez. Bravo to the Forrest camp for staying above the fray here and focusing on what really matters!!! <3

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