As election day nears in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula, opposing sides in a competitive state House race are sending out their final rounds of attack ads – and they’re not telling the whole truth.
State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, has already gone to court over his Republican opponent, Michelle Caldier, using Photoshopped images of him in attack ads. Now Caldier, a dentist from Port Orchard, says Seaquist’s supporters are using edited images of court documents to make her look like a criminal.
At the same time, ads from Caldier’s campaign have exaggerated how much college tuition rose while Seaquist was chairman of the Higher Education Committee.
The two candidates are fighting to represent the 26th Legislative District, which includes Gig Harbor, the Key Peninsula and Port Orchard.
Caldier said that charge stemmed from her driving past Husky Stadium in Seattle, when she followed a green light and didn’t see a police officer who was directing traffic.
The other cases listed are civil infractions, such as traffic tickets, or noncriminal cases such as Caldier’s 1999 divorce petition. One civil lawsuit deals with damages following a traffic accident.
Another case highlighted in the ads shows Caldier as a defendant, when in reality she was the petitioner. The image appears to have been doctored to change the word “petitioner” to “defendant.”
Caldier’s residency has also been called into question in recent campaign fliers paid for by the same group, Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Leadership.
She says her family has deep roots in Kitsap, including her great-grandfather being the first postmaster of Kitsap County.
“I was born and raised here, my daughter was born here,” she said in a phone interview Thursday. “I’m from this district and I think it’s a stretch to paint me out to say I’m not from this district.”
Caldier said while living in King County she regularly came to Bremerton to help care for her ailing father. She moved back to be closer to him.
“I've been spending the majority of my time in Kitsap County for the last several years,” she said.
Meanwhile, Caldier’s campaign has criticized her opponent’s work on college tuition.
Since then, tuition has been frozen to stay at the same level.
However, in the entire time Seaquist has been in the Legislature – 2007 to the present – he has voted for other budgets that have increased tuition. If you include Seaquist’s time as a rank-and-file member of the Legislature, tuition has roughly doubled at the state’s largest universities since he took office.