Our mailboxes can go back to being clogged with bills and Christmas catalogues.
Our dinnertime phone calls can be limited to those from Aunt Shirley or a not-for-profit group seeking money.
And our annoying TV ads can be restricted to those featuring loud car salesmen and accident-injury attorneys.
On Tuesday, the last day of the nonstop bombardment from candidates, even the candidates were squawking about the negative campaigning.
Joining in the chorus were the two combatants in the roughest local political race, the 27th Congressional District street fight between incumbent Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul and Republican challenger Chris Collins.
Collins and Hochul, in partnership with their outside groups, spent more than $5 million on television ads to reach the voters, much of it focusing on attacking the other candidate.
The two candidates had one thing in common on Election Day. Both went to their polling places armed with doughnuts for Erie County election inspectors. And both blasted the whole notion of negative campaigning, although they chose different culprits.
A Buffalo News reporter asked Hochul, who voted shortly after 7:30 a.m. in Grace Lutheran Church in Hamburg, what she would tell the voters who seemed unanimous in their distaste for the negative campaigning that marked the 27th District race.
“I agree with them,” she said, adding that there has to be a way to put a dent in the millions of dollars from outside political action committees that are polluting the airwaves. “We’ve got to put an end to that and restore civility to our [election campaigns].”
Collins, who entered the Clarence Volunteer Fire Company station at 9:25 a.m. to cast his vote, insisted his campaign was not negative.
“We didn’t run a nasty campaign; my opponent did,” he said. “We stayed positive. Certainly the last few weeks you saw that in my commercials. We were positive, she was very negative.”
He was asked by The News about his campaign’s Halloween-themed commercial that ran frequently in recent days, casting Hochul in a negative light by saying she “treated” herself by “tricking” the public.
“It’s not my ad, and I actually think it’s kind of comical,” he said, before adding, “When the airwaves are crowded, you have to cut through, and you’d have to admit that one cut through.”
Some voters expressed their disgust with what they described as an overdose of negative advertising.
“I’m tired of the phone calls, and I’m so tired of the negativity,” said Suzanne Sommer, a medical receptionist voting in Hamburg. “I wish people would come out and say what they’re for, instead of slandering one another.”
Here’s how bad the negative campaigning has become, at least for Julie Bettcher, a corporate tax accountant voting in Hamburg: “It will free up the mailbox so I can see my bills again,” she quipped.
Michael V. Haselswerdt, a political science professor at Canisius College, took exception to what is sometimes classified as negative advertising.
“People are ready to call everything negative that might be considered comparative. If you’re talking about policy, and you’re pointing out your opponent wants to ship jobs overseas, that’s not negative, that’s comparative,” Haselswerdt said.
“Was this the most negative race anyone ever heard of? No, it hasn’t been excessively negative. There have been so many ads that it just seemed that way.”