(Note: This is a brief summary of the author’s observations and personal opinions of his interactions as a voter and former political type, being marketed to by both Walter F Timilty and Nora Harrington, primary contenders for the state senate seat being vacated by Brian Joyce. I have no affiliation with either candidate, no financial connections, and would decline same if offered.).
THE TROUBLE WITH TIMILTY: How a campaign ‘s use of Gross Misrepresentation, Attack Robo-Calls, and playing loose with the facts backfired to turn off an otherwise open voter and his wife.
So, a year ago I’d never heard of either of these candidates. Sure, I know the Timilty name generally–who doesn’t–it’s as close to Kennedy, or Sullivan, as you get around where I grew up about an hour north of Boston. Anyway, I’ve been in Easton for over 15 years now, and these two would be competing for our votes down here.
Early in the summer, my wife, some out of town family and I attended a local arts/music/food festival called “The Legacy,” Held on the Gov. Ames Estate grounds and in it’s 3rd year, it’s a growing family friendly gig with some local republican pols flipping burgers who I did a good job of avoiding.
On my way to the other food tent, a friend manning of one several tables called me over to introduce me to a woman standing with her, and that’s when I briefly met Nora Harrington. Nora was confident, pleasant, made eye contact, shook everyone’s hand, and told us why she was there. I took a flyer, and commented that her opponent had “a big political name.” Her response acknowledged Timilty’s huge advantages as an 18 year incumbent state rep, but she pointed out the advantages that “new blood, new thinking, and new ideas” can bring to the table.” A nice, tight, answer.
After getting some lunch and sitting down outside, we observed Nora on her own, connecting with individuals and groups of people, asking where they were from, introducing herself, telling them why she was there. It reminded me of my own experiences……of running for office, and how difficult that can be.
Anyway, we kept the flyer for future reference, and and that was it for a while.
Then, I began to hear from Walter Timilty. I first received, back some months ago, a postcard telling me a bit about him and his background. His tenure. A little vague on the accomplishments. I went to his web site, and hers, and while I could see she and her partner had built a business, employed 70 people, a business that was actively engaged in helping others….Timilty’s…..still pretty vague, for my tastes. I’ve replaced enough guys who’ve been in the same job for 20 years to know that tenure does not always equal excellence. Still, I wanted to learn more…but I wondered. Was he just waiting his turn to run for Senate?
It was quiet for much of the summer. I’m looking for Timilty events in town….or evidence that friends have seen him on social media. It’s quiet.
Then, POW! I began to receive targeted mailings, AND Facebook ads, from the Timilty campaign. Small postcards. Big Postcards. Sometimes, more than one one the same day! Promoted Facebook posts. Paid Facebook ads with links to web sites attacking Harrington. Wow! I took a peek at the most recent OCPF filings, and sure enough….Timilty had a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage, had raised a sh*t-load of cash, AND had about 100K in the bank still, coming into a week before the election! He’s gotta be coasting, right?
And, I get an interesting robo-polling call. All the normal questions. It tips itself off as being from the Timilty campaign by virtue of wording of a couple of the questions (e.g. “Will you vote for Town Meeting Member Nora Harrington, or Walter Timilty?”).
Within a few days, I get a NASTY little piece of anonymous, attack robo-call from a chatty woman named “Patty.” I don’t know a Patty. Patty leaves quite a message on my machine, says a lot of nasty and untrue things about Harrington, and a lot of nice things about Timilty, encourages me to call him, and hangs up. The “Patty” call does not identify the origin of, or who paid for the call. Tsk, tsk. Anyone care to drop a dime to the OCPF on that one?
I was going to ask Mr. Timilty about this, and an opportunity presents itself. On Facebook, another friend tells me about a forum in nearby Canton that the candidates were invited to by a group of high school kids. The wife and I were kinda pooped that night, so we passed. Turned out Mr. Timilty did, too. On that one, and the other 5 debates that had been organized. His other opponents had showed, and taken questions. Gives new meaning to the hashtag #Where’sWalter?
I went to the Timilty4Senate facebook page, and tried to raise the question–why isn’t he attending these things? What’s up with the nasty attack robo-calls? Went back a couple days later, only to find not only were my comments not responded to, they were DELETED….and, I, a registered Democrat trying to get a straight answer, was now BLOCKED from posting anything further on the Timilty4Senate fb page. What?? Who else are they doing this to?
And yesterday, another targeted facebook ad. Today, another targeted mailing. These two, a coordinated themed attack on Nora Harrington, accusing her of doing a “last minute smear campaign.” Accusing her of “spending all her summer weekends on the cape.” Hey–I MET HER on a summer weekend, in the district! And you want to talk about smearing–what about those Facebook ads, those postcards, and especially those attack robo-calls?
To be fair–I’ve gotten no emails, cards, letters, or targeted ads from the Harrington campaign. And I’ve been looking for them, too. I got the standard “Do you have any questions about the campaign” type GOTV phone call last week. They also asked if I wanted to help volunteer. Now, I’m thinking about it.
If Timilty wins, it’ll be because his fundraising advantage will have allowed his attacking, misrepresenting message (including the anonymous robo-attacks) to get out to a wide audience. It will be a shame, because the district is trying to get away from the dark cloud of allegations surrounding Mr. Joyce. And from what I’ve experienced…as an average voter who just happens to recognize the witchcraft of political campaign tactics, if it’s “by any means necessary” to get in, then those same values tend to permeate a candidate’s tenure. IMHO.
And no, I don’t work for Nora Harrington or any of her peeps. Nor do I have any ax to grind against the Timilty’s. But if we can’t trust him to tell the truth now? Not exactly the standard we’re trying to set, in the wake of Mr. Joyce’s departure, is it?
The Trouble With Walter F Timilty? the Gross Misrepresentations of His Campaign in it’s communication to undecided voters. Enough to permanently sour this voter on his brand. There’s no way we should support this person–particularly given he (IMO) has not put forward any real, solid achievement list…in SEVENTEEN YEARS!!!–so now needs to resort to these kinds of things.
We want someone to vote *for.* Just serving in office a long time, or having a well known name, doesn’t get you a free pass to the next level.
Please remember to Vote on Thursday, September 8th.
With best wishes,
Update 9/7: I’ve since seen my first targeted Harrington facebook ad–one touting her recent endorsement by the Boston Globe, which is here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2016/09/03/nora-harrington-for-state-senate/8KY4W7KE8VLaLipdchoc8O/story.html .