Normally, we’d have reserved this space to congratulate the winners of Frederick’s election. Instead, we’re already having to take Alderman-elect Phil Dacey and his campaign to the woodshed for underhanded politics, whether he authorized it or members of his campaign did.
Ted Dacey, the candidate’s brother, acknowledged asking the state GOP to make a last-minute robocall on Tuesday attacking Democrat Donna Kuzemchak over nonpayment of taxes — payments she subsequently honored. The call cites The Frederick News-Post’s May 14 story on the Democrat.
Despite his demurral that he was focused on his race and didn’t know the contents of the call, we don’t for one minute believe Phil Dacey was unaware of what his brother was up to. That may be a good excuse at the national level — and these kinds of disgusting attacks are part of that kind of playbook — but in a relatively small, close-knit city campaign in a rural county in one of the smallest states in the nation for a part-time position? We’re not talking staff members in the hundreds here. Excuse us if we’re skeptical.
Denial just doesn’t cut it. Dacey was the candidate. The buck stops at his door. He needs to get used to the idea of taking responsibility now he’s an elected official.
The attack ultimately failed. Kuzemchak made the final cut, in fifth place. Dacey came in third, the lone Republican on the five-member Board of Aldermen.
So, Dacey is facing a difficult four years. Not only will he be isolated by party affiliation, but he’ll be under suspicion from the start. Even if he didn’t authorize the call himself, it was his campaign.
Even some of Dacey’s fellow Republicans and those who voted for him were suffering from buyer’s remorse once they heard about the call going out. State Sen. David Brinkley called Kuzemchak to apologize on behalf of the GOP.
Lonnie Ropp, vice chairman of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee, said the call was in poor taste.
“That type of phone call is not reflective of the vast majority of Republicans within the party,” Ropp told The News-Post.
The state party thought Ted Dacey was speaking on behalf of the local GOP and made no effort to vet the attack or even check that local party members had given their approval. “If we knew what we know now, we probably would not have made the call,” said Chairwoman Diane Waterman. We have to say, this makes the state GOP look pretty dysfunctional. Stupid, even.
Brian Griffiths, who broke details of the robocall on his blog, Red Maryland, was unapologetic in his criticism of the campaign’s tactic:
“I can tell you, as somebody who donated to Dacey’s general election campaign and somebody who has known Phil Dacey since we were in college, I am disgusted.”
We are, too. And so is a large proportion of Frederick voters, many of whom supported Dacey.
Dacey needs to man up and apologize to Kuzemchak, because he may end up sitting next to her in that first-floor City Hall hearing room. And he needs to pledge to the people of Frederick that he’ll keep his nose clean from now on. Perhaps that way he’ll be able to find a way to get along with his colleagues, maybe even make up some ground.
In any case, this is a terrible way to start the next four years.