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Passalacqua hammered his own thumb

The first indications that District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua’s re-election bid was in trouble may have come in early February when he attributed Jill Ravitch’s fundraising success to “sweetheart deals” with defense attorneys.

The backlash was swift and strong.

We immediately started receiving letters challenging Passalaqua to prove his allegation, some of them noting that Ravitch had been a member of his staff. Some letters were from denizens of the courthouse, others appeared to be from rank-and-file voters. The demands were sharpened by Martin Woods, a lawyer and Ravitch donor who pointed out that trading campaign cash for favors in court would violate ethics codes and that Passalacqua was duty-bound to bring any such case to the state Bar.

Instead of turning to other lines of attack, Passalacqua continued to hammer away.

He didn’t get it, but “sweetheart deals” was a loser from the start. Ravitch’s strongest selling point is that she’s a tough-on-crime prosecutor. She has the record to prove it; even her critics concede that. So suggestions that she was trading plea bargains for campaign cash just didn’t pass the smell test.

That may not be the only reason that Passalacqua appears to be headed for defeat after two terms, but it sure didn’t help him.

– Jim Sweeney

7 Responses to “Passalacqua hammered his own thumb”

  1. Jessie Johnson says:

    I’ve been watching Laura Gonzalez here for a while. She writes regularly in support of Allen and complains about the news coverage. She makes her claim but never backs up her statements. Gonzalez should tell us what exactly is the “smear” otherwise she is suggesting this newspaper cover up the facts to help her candidate. There’s nothing wrong with a newspaper covering the investigation of a candidate by a county auditor or a state agency. That is news. It’s something people expect to find in a newspaper.

  2. Laura Gonzalez says:

    I seems that in this election, candidates who went negative hurt themselves more than their opponents (with the exception of the PD smear tactics against Michael Allen). Passalacqua, Fudge and Mazzia did indeed hammer their own thumbs. Hopefully this message that dirty politics doesn’t work will carry forth to other campaigns.

  3. The insider says:

    Well said Sweeney. Sad that Paul Payne did not report all of the facts and just reported mild facts. We need a reporter like Lori Carter who is not affraid of reporting the truth and let the chips fall where they are. Paul did no favors to the public and lost the trust of many respected attorneys and law enforcement.

  4. Third SoCoAttorney says:

    Jill had the upper hand early on. For a two term incumbent to fail to secure the endorsement of a single police professional organization or leader sent a message that could not be explained. The incumbent suggested that the opposition to his candidacy was due to lengthy reviews of officer involved incidents. He could not make that stick. Grasping at straws, he went negative. And he could not point to credible negatives about Jill. So he resported to false charges and red herrings. He hurt himself again and again. His best hope, as Terry Price says, would have been to run on his record. But that presented problems, too.

    Since the incumbent accepted contributions from defense attroneys when he ran against Mullins, raising that as an issue made no sense. And everyone knows that Jill will not offer sweetheart deals to anyone.

    The incumbent’s Achilles’s heal was his lack of experience in major cases. He ran in 2002 without relevant and necessary experience and he never found a way to overcome this gap in his preparation. His background indicated that he did not seek to make the sacrifices required of a senior member of a trial practice office.

  5. AnotherSoCoatty says:

    Stephan’s arrogance finally caught up to him in a very public manner. His decision to try and run dirty was only surpassed by his lack of humility or decency to admit his mistake and apologize. Those character defects are not the type a healthy society needs more of in it’s elected “leaders”

  6. SoCoAttorney says:

    Dwight Cary said it perfectly- Passalacqua’s campaign strategy was offensive and dirty, and it backfired. It didn’t help that many Sonoma County attorneys know that there was a revolving door of deputy DAs at the DAs office under Passalacqua. (I think Chris Mazzia may have hurt his chances when he went negative with winner Jaime Thistlewaite, saying that she wouldn’t uphold the death penalty.)

  7. Dwight Cary says:

    Passalacqua sealed his fate with his despicable negative ads. What a complete and total turn off. Why would an incumbent DA resort to such trash if he had a strong record to run on and strong character to support it? Not Sonoma County style.