DEARBORN — Local campaigns have taken quite the negative turn just weeks ahead of the August 2 primary. Robocalls targeting candidates in the 19th District Court race, 15th District State Rep. race and the Dearborn School Board race have been making ...and more »
DEARBORN â€” Local campaigns have taken quite the negative turn just weeks ahead of the August 2 primary.
Robocalls targeting candidates in the 19th District Court race, 15th District State Rep. race and the Dearborn School Board race have been making their way around the city.
Multiple campaigns have also complained that their lawn signs have gone missing or were vandalized.Â
Last week, controversy ensued when a Facebook page released a video of Dearborn City Council President and 19th District Court candidate "Susan 'Hammoud' Dabaja's" husband being tied to a criminal case in 2008.
But a robocall took it one step further â€“ affiliating Dabaja's husband's last name with State rep. candidate Abdullah Hammoud and Dearborn School Board Trustee Fadwa Hammoud, referring to it as "the Hammoud criminal enterprise."
The three candidates are not related, but the robocall connects them all in one big conspiracy of the Hammoud family trying to take over Dearborn.
"We don't need another shady Hammoud in office. Keep your crimes out of Dearborn," the robocall said.
The message does not disclose the party or campaign behind the robocall.Â
Abdullah Hammoud told The AANews that the calls were an attack on his identity, but that his campaign would not defer from focusing on his platform.
"I'm honored for my last name and the family that carries that last name," Hammoud said. "It's one of the largest Arab household names. When they targeted that name, they targeted many individuals. Such tactics are meant to distract voters from real issues that matter. My campaign continues to focus on one thing and that is the issues."
Hammoud noted that his campaign has also been the victim of vandalism targeting his lawn signs, but that such patterns are common during election season.
"I think it happens to every single campaign," he said. "Unlike the other campaigns, we have chosen not to talk about it because it comes with the realms of the elections. But lawn signs don't vote."
19th District Court judge candidate Abbie Bazzi said she had not received any robocalls, nor has her campaign sent any out. Bazzi said that her campaign was also subjected to the removal of lawn signs.
She told The AANews that she's too busy campaigning to pay attention to such smear tactics.Â
"My campaign has not done any robocalls and I have not received any, either," she said. "We do have some lawn signs missing. But right now, with the election being so close, I'm too busy campaigning and that remains my only focus."Â
State rep. candidate Brian Stone told The AANews that he condemns such behavior.
"I think voters understand that there are sharp elbows in politics, but they also expect the campaigns to keep a certain level of decorum," Stone said. "Unfortunately, there have been a number of incidents with candidates harassing volunteers for opposing candidates, damaging property and sending out attack robocalls and putting out factually inaccurate messages. I think if any candidate wants to attack one of their opponents, they should be willing to put their name on it and stand by what they say and resort to tactics that would not be described as voter intimidation."
A second robocall, centered on attacking 19th District Court judge candidate Gene Hunt, has also been making the rounds. Hunt, a city-appointed defense attorney, was accused of assisting more than 10,000 criminals and keeping them from receiving a maximum punishment during his three decades in the courtroom, according to the message.
Hunt issued a press release on Wednesday asking voters to disregard the attacksâ€“denying any involvement in such dirty politics.Â
"I'm saddened to report that the district judge race has taken a dark turn," Hunt said.Â "During the past week there have been unethical "push" polls and negative robocalls. I suspect it will get worse as we get closer to the August primary. The Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct is very clear on how judges and candidates for judicial office are to conduct themselves. I take this code seriously. I've given my team strict orders as to how my campaign is to be run. My campaign has not, and will not, attack my opponents."Â Dabaja declined to comment.Â