After releasing a series of (somewhat questionable) internal polls, Sam Carpenter’s campaign has ramped up what some Republicans consider to be a scorched-earth, unfounded, and unprofessional attacks on rank-and-file Republicans on social media, specifically.
The tactics have turned so nasty that The Oregon Tea Party issued a rare anti-endorsement for Sam Carpenter.
Oregon Tea Party was not planning on endorsing a Gubernatorial Candidate in the Republican Primary and we still aren’t planning to. But the Carpenter For Governor campaign has reached such despicable lows that we can’t remain silent.
They’ve written up a full post on why they are opposing Carpenter, and it’s worth reading.
Here are some relevant excerpts:
The primary offender is Carpenter’s Campaign Manager David Gulliver, but when called out on his egregious behavior, Sam Carpenter himself has repeatedly reiterated his support for his campaign manager and his actions.
The worst (of many) disgusting tactics features David Gulliver, via comments in a Facebook Messenger group chat, encouraging supporters to target supporters of Bruce Cuff as “dangerous extremists” and to “paint them all into David Duke types and condemn their racist bigotry” to “make Greg be ashamed to have them”.
Cody Benson has written more about the Carpenter campaign’s attempts to game social media.
David and his comrades also engage in an online tactic known as brigading. Brigading is a concentrated effort by one online group to manipulate another, usually through mass commenting and down voting. Generally speaking this is an acceptable form of discourse online as it does not seek to silence anyone but rather promotes a differing opinion. Of course it is the internet so expect a few trolls to pop up now and again.
The point of this tactic is to make it appear that there is overwhelming support for one topic, issue or person and drowns out the voices of those who disagree or dissent. If you pay attention you will often see the same small group of people commenting and liking pro-Carpenter propaganda. It also gives the false impression of overwhelming success, which will draw people in who think that he has massive support, when in reality his support base is a minority of people cycling through.
The blowback has been substantial. Republicans such as Rep. Bill Post, Ben West, and others have responded that the Carpenter campaign tactics shouldn’t be tolerated.
Reagan Knopp is a digital-first political consultant and Editor-in-Chief of Oregon Catalyst.