Analysis: Ugly Histories Trump Campaign Promises

Many of this year’s primary election campaigns seem to hinge more on the antics of the candidates than on the future of the communities they hope to serve.

Unmarked manila envelopes from campaigns to reporters, full of headline-grabbing historical tidbits — bankruptcies, government filings, medical records, police accident reports and rap sheets — outnumber the white papers detailing public policy issues that might be addressed by competent leaders performing their official duties.

Candidates unleash such information because it can sometimes persuade voters, because the candidates are sometimes desperate, and because it is the sort of information that can distinguish them from ...

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