It's a political cliche: "Lawn signs don't vote," and political campaign managers usually moan about having to buy them. They're both visibility and a supporter swag program, but not much good for actually turning out voters to the polls.
And they're catnip for bored kids tempted by the challenge of a prank.
But they also attract a mean side of politics. In 2002, someone stole my Wellstone sign, right on Highway 12, within a day of the plane crash. I was devastated--especially since my Republican county commissioner had left a vase of flowers in remembrance.
Last night's stenciling of "Don't feed the animals" on Mary Franson's yard signs in Alexandria isn't quite as cruel, but it's just as illegal. The level of strategic numbskullery is off the charts as well.
(The sentence refers to a "joke" Franson told in a Minnesota House Republican Caucus video intended for Franson's constituents. First reported by Bluestem Prairie --which worked with Hong Pong to post the entire video before the House Caucus pulled the Youtube--the statement, drawn from a conservative email staple, provoked a wave of criticism for the freshman legislator, including a protest at the state capitol and her front lawn. Bluestem deplored the video and examined the "welfare reform" that Franson mentions in the clip. At a Tea Party rally in Browerville in July, Franson repeated the statement as she told the audience that she needed their help since her own caucus didn't come to her defense in the spring.)
It's also difficult to believe that last night's vandalism is a random act of teen vandalism, since creating a stencil takes some premeditation.
Jen DeJournett tweeted that it's several hundred dollars of signs:
Several hundred $s worth of Rep Franson's lawn signs were destroyed by vandals. Help her replace them by donating 2day!
On her personal and campaign Facebook pages, Franson has posted several different photos of the vandalism. On its Facebook page, Franson's campaign is using the damage as a chance to blame "the left" and fundraise:
Team Franson - I need YOUR HELP in sending me back to St. Paul. After the stunt that the "left" pulled with my signs - it is clear to me that they will stop at nothing to make sure I am not re-elected. I am being attacked each and every day and the attacks are getting worse. Please donate $5, $15, or as much as you can afford to my campaign. Please visit www.fransonforstatehouse.com to help. Thank you!!
That's certainly a win for the thimblewit who did this.
Is the district competitive? It's the only one for which the Republican House caucus did polling, and a PAC, the North Star Project,registered after the pre-primary reporting period was over (thus no report on file), seems to be focusing just on the Franson-Cunniff race on its twitter account. North Dakota State University associate professor and district native Aaron Ley, the chair of the PAC, has been an active Cunniff supporter on twitter.
Franson is also target for two "sock puppet" twitter accounts, Animal4Cunniff and Mary Franson, by @FakeMaryFranson. Franson quit tweeting and blogging after being criticized by Joe Bodell of the Minnesota Progressive Project in Mary Franson is a bigot, faux Christian, and otherwise terrible person.
Vandalism is bad, and whatever his or her intention, whoever did this is no friend to Cunniff and the DFL Caucus's hopes to regain control of the House. Perhaps the Douglas County DFL can offer a reward for anyone whose tip leads to the arrest of this idiot(s).
Here's the entire original Youtube showing her offensive statement. The discussion of welfare reform begins at the 1:51 mark:
Photo: Stenciled Franson sign.