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.