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May 30, 2014
Editorials: Campaign mailers are worth the price of postage, if stamps were free

mailers.jpg(May 30 - By the Editorial Board)

There's nothing like an impending election to fill up a mailbox. And nothing like a fistful of election fliers to remind us: Don't believe everything that comes in the mail.

Not that they aren't sweet, these glossy mass pleas that blanket the land in the final hours of campaign season. So little is done anymore by snail mail that it feels almost artisanal for an actual piece of paper to be delivered by an actual postal worker to actual houses.

But they can be tricky, these mailers. Here, for example, is one asking you to vote for a nice doctor. See? He's so nice that he's high-fiving a cute little patient.

You could read the whole flier and never know that Sacramento Assemblyman Richard Pan, a part-time pediatrician, is actually posing with the child of a lobbyist who regularly seeks his vote in the course of her work for medical organizations.

Her clients, in fact, have given more than $20,000 to Pan's campaigns, as The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall reported last week.

Puts a whole new spin on that high five, doesn't it?

Or how about this one, blaming poor Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd for problems with failed bolts on the Bay Bridge just because the guy once sat on an oversight board and "had a great time in China."

Where the bolts weren't actually made. And where Dodd's job wasn't to inspect them, which is why Caltrans has been blamed for the issue, but whatever. Dodd's leading in a high-dollar campaign for the 4th Assembly District in Yolo and Napa counties, and his own mailers haven't been much to write home about, either, according to the other contenders in the race.

So it goes. These are the days when neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep the direct mail from your doorstep, whether it's from "the only candidate" for Sacramento County district attorney who supposedly cares about sex slavery (really?) or the gubernatorial wannabe who wants you to believe he (or anyone) could be to the right of the tea-party-esque Tim Donnelly.

And that's not to mention the bogus "slate mailers" that look like voting guides but really are just paid advertisements. In the age of Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, mailers hang in there, the bread and butter of politicking, never mind the whiff of baloney.

So take them for what they're worth as the days count down to the election: The price of postage. If postage were free.