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Attack mailers for Johnson draw ire of two important backers

Yana Gracile | July 30, 2014

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Alex Johnson George McKenna Negative Mailer LAUSDRecent campaign material supporting Alex Johnson that questions the record of his opponent in the LA Unified District 1 school board race, George McKenna, are rattling two of Johnson’s high profile supporters, U.S. Congresswoman Janice Hahn and former Congresswoman Diane Watson.

“I do not support the negativity that has come out,” Watson told LA School Report. “I never have done that. Trying to scandalize and demean an opponent running is not the way I work, and that’s not what I agreed to.”

Watson said she has reached out to Johnson’s campaign, insisting that her name and image not be used in any negative materials.

So far, none of the negative material (examples are here and here) from the campaign has included the names of Watson or Hahn. Fred MacFarlane, a spokesman for the campaign said he believed they were responding to pro-Johnson material from an outside group. The campaign is barred by law from contacting outside groups, regarding their campaign activities.

“I let the person I endorse, Alex Johnson, know that this scurrilous materials that had been put out on one’s opponent, they can’t use my name, they can’t use my picture,” said Watson, who served five terms in the House, through 2011.

Watson was an early supporter of McKenna, at a time the school board had not decided whether to fill the board seat by appointment or by election. McKenna said then he only wanted the seat if appointed, leading Watson to offer support for Johnson.

After the board voted to stage an election, McKenna became a candidate, but Watson kept to her word and stayed in the Johnson camp.

What she objected to were several recent mailings from the Johnson campaign, attempting to deflate McKenna’s accomplishments over his 35 years as an administrator and educator.

Claiming that the mailers were trying to address the “myth” of McKenna, Johnson’s campaign said the aim was to expose the “real” McKenna.

Hahn, a second-term House member, expressed her concern over the negative campaigning against McKenna to the website City Watch, which quoted her as saying, “Politics can get really dirty sometimes and this looks like one of those times.”

Hahn did not respond to numerous attempts to reach her at her Washington, D.C. office.

MacFarlane said neither woman has asked to be removed from the list of Johnson supporters.

Previous Posts: Zimmer, Kayser back McKenna; Villaraigosa in for Johnson; Johnson campaign goes negative, citing the ‘myth’ of McKenna; McKenna is the union candidate, but CTA gave to Johnson backers

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