Halloween is coming and it’s getting scary in the land of politics. For years, we’ve been told that anything negative about The Former Guy is “fake news.” And that you should only believe it, not your eyes and ears or the mainstream media (MSM).

So why am I getting all these negative flyers in my mailbox? To take them at face value would mean that all politicians are bad and hypocritical. They belong to the Chicago Machine or they have ulterior motives to run for office.

What’s a guy to believe? Instead of scary characters arriving at my door at night, I get a haunting letter every day telling me to be scared. Being very afraid of politicians running for office in my area. These ghosts arrive in 8″x11″ direct mail pieces. Sometimes in smaller versions; 6″x11″ but they all warned me not to vote for someone. They come in different colors, mostly shades of gray, but one sported orange and black as a nod to the season. Well, let’s dig into some ghostly details. Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbents Katie Stewart and Kris Thune for legislative posts. Anonymous organizations with names like “Common Sense Reforms NFP” or the Illinois Democratic Party or the Illinois Republican Party send these pamphlets to registered voters in the House and Senate districts to cut off the tracks or overtake their opponents.

These aren’t cheap flyers, some cost up to $10,000 to write, design, layout, print and mail. Others are cheaper in the $6,000 range, but still a big change bet on winning an election. I can’t even estimate how much was spent on negative TV ads.

We are warned that State Rep. Katie Stuart, who is a very active legislator and has passed significant legislation, I will be working for someone else instead of us. “Who does Katie Stuart really represent?” screams the title of a leaflet. He accuses him of raising taxes and letting drug traffickers go free. All based on footnotes that no one will ever take the time to check. On the other hand, another title reads “Katie Stuart leads us off a cliff”.

The Democratic Party responded with a pamphlet of its own accusing Stuart’s opponent of being an election denier backed by terrorists involved in the January 6 insurgency in Washington, D.C.

Another larger flyer warns that Sen. Kris Tharp was “appointed and funded by the same extreme Chicago politicians who are driving up our cost of living and making us less safe.” Are you still afraid? You should be. Research has shown that increasing an opponent’s negative points increases your chances of winning. However, according to Wikipedia, “if he motivates the support base, he can alienate

centrist and undecided voters from the political process, reducing voter turnout and radicalizing politics.

Perfect for Halloween.

But the best of the group of negative direct mail is paid for by “people who play by PAC rules”, whoever they are. They attack judicial candidate Barry Julian asking in a blood red headline if the Madison County judicial seats should be for sale and warning that Julian seems to think so.

Julian, a Democrat who finances his campaign with his personal resources, is also attacked on his age. Hypocrisy dripping from a pamphlet ostensibly funded by a Republican organization in Florida, which supports someone who will be 78 when he runs for President of the United States in 2024.

As research shows, it’s easier to raise negatives about Democrats than Republicans. Maybe because Democrats don’t usually get in the mud with Republicans. Or, more likely, since negative campaigns suppress voter turnout, they hurt Democrats the most.

Whatever the reasons for negative campaign ads this election year, don’t let them ruin your Halloween. Just keep some candy corn and black licorice on hand for the candidates you don’t like who show up at your door.

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Jim Grandone lives in the Leclaire neighborhood of Edwardsville, with his wife Mary and their dog Jack.