Delegate Kenneth Plum, a Democrat who represents the Reston-area 36th District, seems strangely afraid of his Libertarian opponent, political newcomer Donny Ferguson. (There is no declared Republican running against incumbent Plum.)
In a recent letter to the editor, Plum, who was first elected in 1981 and therefore should know better, violated the number one rule of political campaigns: Do not promote your opponent, his party, or his views.
Generally, this rule is interpreted to mean "don't use your opponent's name in a speech or in print unless absolutely necessary." It goes without saying that you wouldn't send out information about your opponent or his positions in a direct-mail piece, and you certainly don't provide voters with a means to give your opponent money or volunteer time.
Yet in a letter to The Observer, a Fairfax/Loudoun newspaper, Plum actually gives readers the addresses of Ferguson's web sites:
Now, it may be that Plum simply thinks that libertarian ideas are too weird for Northern Virginia voters to stomach. Considering the number of government workers and employees of government contractors who live in the area and feed off the taxpayer's teat, he's probably right: They won't want to hear about shrinking the size and scope of government and giving more responsibility and autonomy to individual citizens.
I too encourage you to visit my opponent's websites, www.DonnyFerguson.com and http://DonnyFerguson.blogspot.com. He is offering to lead our community; we need to understand behind his no tax rhetoric just what he stands for.
But there are going to be readers, even in Reston, who will go to Ferguson's web sites and find his ideas intriguing, attractive, refreshing, or persuasive. There will be some who will vote for Ferguson on November 8 and others who will give Ferguson money or volunteer their time and energy for his campaign. And none of them would have learned about Ferguson or about how to contact his campaign except for Plum's drawing them a map to the buried treasure.
Whatever Donny Ferguson is doing to goad Plum into ill-considered reactions like this, he must continue doing it. And he needs to teach other pro-citizen, anti-government candidates his secret recipe.
It's so nice to see an incumbent politician squirming at the prospect of a Libertarian challenger.