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Mud-free politics?

"Norma Smith, Republican candidate for the 10th District Senate seat, has come out pledging to run a clean campaign against incumbent Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island. Haugen says she's all for a non-attack strategy, but views Smith's pledge with some suspicion. Smith's pledge challenges Haugen and anyone else who might enter the race to campaign solely on merit and qualifications and form a fair campaign committee that will review mailers and commercials from all candidates for accuracy prior to distribution.Smith, a Clinton resident, has been field representative to Island, Skagit and North Snohomish counties for Rep. Jack Metcalf, R-Langley and was a former president of the South Whidbey School Board.We must restore faith and confidence in the election process, Smith said. She said she wants to avoid a campaign clouded in innuendo, half-truths and mud slinging.Haugen said she fully expects Smith will personally run such a campaign, and added that she intends to as well. I don't do negative campaigns, Haugen said Monday. If I can't win on my own merit, I don't deserve it - I don't want to win that way. I'm glad that she feels the same way. Haugen has served five two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate. She said she has signed similar clean campaign pledges authored by the League of Women Voters in her previous runs for office. But Haugen also said she probably would not sign Smith's pledge, citing requirements to submit all campaign literature to the other side at least 48 hours before release. She said the logistics of producing campaign advertising might make that provision hard to live up to.Smith said she would be willing to compromise with Haugen on a lead time that both could agree on. She added that she intends to stick by her pledge regardless of whether Haugen agrees to it.This is an opportunity for us to give the voters something different, Smith said. Haugen cautioned that just because candidates agree to run a clean race doesn't mean that their political parties or supporters won't put out hit pieces.It's not the candidates, it's the third parties, she said. I don't want any hit pieces in the district. I'm hoping the third parties honor her pledge. Smith calls for such cooperation.I will refrain from and demand that my supporters refrain from making any negative statements on the character, or motives or personal life of other candidates for this seat, states her pledge.I want everyone who is supporting me to know what I'm pledging, Smith added. I going to tell them that this is the standard I want for my campaign."

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