Campaign sign mayhem

Anthony Bittner, the Skyview High senior (he graduates Friday) who’s running for the open 18th Legislative District seat, just got a harsh lesson in campaign tactics.

Over last weekend, someone vandalized nearly $1,000 worth of signs belonging to one of his opponents, La Center businesswoman Ann Rivers. Both are Republicans.

Rivers said the centers were cut out of four 4 x 8 signs, each worth $100; eight 2 x 4 signs, each worth $60, and 45 yard signs. The vandalism occurred in the Hazel Dell-Salmon Creek area.

A veteran of many political campaigns, Rivers said this type of property destruction is to be expected on public rights-of-way, “but the people who did this went onto private property.”

And there was another weird thing: In at least one case, someone hung an Anthony Bittner sign inside the frame of Rivers’ destroyed sign.

A local blogger posted a photo of the cannibalized sign and asserted, “Clearly, this was done by a Bittner supporter,” then went on to admonish the 18-year-old that “Damaging political signs is a criminal offense.”

Bittner demanded a retraction , writing on the blog, “It is NOT clearly an Anthony Bittner supporter. Vandalism is a criminal offense but so is slander, keep that in mind.”

That was Monday. On Thursday, Bittner was still steamed. “Who would do that in their right mind?” he said. It would be like leaving your business card at the scene of the crime, he pointed out.

Besides, he said, lots of other candidates’ signs were destroyed over the weekend too, including several of his own.

“It’s kind of ruined the whole race and some of the things I’m trying to do,” said the young man, who describes himself as a Republican with independent ideas and conservative values.

“I don’t believe Anthony Bittner did this or had someone do it,” Rivers said. But when asked, she said, “I think he is in over his head. I look at him through the eyes of a mom with a son that age.”

Bittner is trying to put the incident behind him. After commencement, he said, he plans to hit the streets and begin knocking on doors.

“I haven’t done a fund-raiser yet,” he said, “but I’ve raised almost $5,000.”

Kathie Durbin

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