Writing on his campaign blog last week, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick apologized for his work on the 1988 Slade Gorton campaign. "When I was a young man running Slade Gorton's campaign" (that is, when he was 30) McGavick ran an ad claiming Gorton's opponent, Mike Lowry, supported marijuana legalization. "We should have pulled it once evidence mounted that [the ad] was not an accurate reflection of his views," McGavick wrote.


Well, McGavick (now all grown up!) at 48, just released a radio ad accusing his current target, Maria Cantwell, of opposing the sales-tax deduction on federal income tax. The deduction brings in about $550 on average for Washington State residents per year.

A woman's voiceover states: "Last week, the U.S. Senate put our state sales-tax deduction in serious jeopardy... Maria Cantwell voted with her party against our deduction." McGavick follows up: "I think that's the most disappointing thing. I really thought Senator Cantwell would vote to keep this deduction in place."

McGavick's pour-and-stir ad from the GOP cookbook, is based on the fact that Cantwell voted against extending the sales-tax deduction in a recent smorgasbord GOP bill.

Well, of course Cantwell voted against it—it was blackmail. The bill included such GOP class-warfare goodies as gutting the estate tax on the richest .2 percent of heirs and imposing a tip deduction on wait staff—which would have socked working-class wages down to about $2.15 an hour.

But here's what's most irksome about McGavick's ad: The reason Washingtonians have been able to save an average of $550 a year is because Cantwell struck a bipartisan deal to extend the sales-tax-deductibility provision in 2003. Meanwhile, she's the lead sponsor this year, along with Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, of a bill that would make the sales-tax deduction permanent.

Saying Cantwell is against the sales-tax deduction certainly isn't an "accurate reflection" of Cantwell's views.

Earlier this week, the Democrats asked McGavick to pull the ad. McGavick spokesman Elliott Bundy says they won't pull it: "No, there's absolutely nothing inaccurate about the ad."

Technically, Bundy's right. Cantwell voted against the recent sales-tax deduction. Ethically, however, he's on shaky ground.

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Bundy adds: "It's an issue ad." For a campaign that's made civility the issue, McGavick's misleading ad—again, Cantwell is the Senate's bipartisan champion of the sales-tax deduction—is the opposite of civility.


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