Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hockema's Ad at Jeff: Rookie Mistake or Political Calculation?

In today's J&C Dave Bangert offers an extended examination of Chuck Hockema's unauthorized use of Jefferson High school facilities in an ad for his campaign against Sheila Klinker. Bangert cites several other uses of public school or Purdue events in previous local political ads, but, as a commenter on the J&C website notes, those occurred at public events and Jeff facilities are normally secured when not in use, and presumably only accessible to authorized persons.

Bangert is inclined to view this as a "rookie mistake" on Hockema's part, though he sees it as a "pretty big" one. Sheila Klinker disagrees: “You just can’t make politics part of a public school system. It’s not right.” Heather Maddox too: “I just think it sets a bad precedent all around. And to the general public, it does imply an endorsement, in my opinion."

The head of Purdue's Political Science Department thinks Hockema's use of school property is strategic: “The symbols are very, very important. ... Here, it’s trying to link him to education. That’s been Sheila Klinker’s issue — what she’s been known for. If he has any wits about him, he’s thinking very consciously about that. There’s a strategy there."

Rookie mistake or political calculation? As Prof. Clawson says, "I tell my class that there’s nothing in a campaign advertisement that’s a mistake."

You can read Bangert's piece here.