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Has this race already gone down the toilet?

Jake Middleton has joked publicly about making his living selling toilet paper, and a fitting reminder of his potty humor made a foul appearance in area mailboxes last week.

Middleton’s supply business sells toilet paper, along with a myriad of other paper products and cleaning supplies.

Last week in his bid to be re-elected to a second term as Natchez mayor, Miaddleton and his supporters apparently decided to take what he knows best — things in need of toilet paper — to the campaign trail.

The attack mail-out had a return P.O. Box address that matches Middleton’s family business — which doesn’t seem smart.

Two readers confirmed late last week having received the pieces, one provided a copy to me.

There in full color — on both sides — the first nastiness of the municipal race made its first public appearance.

The hit piece rehashes one of the many public stumbles and bad judgments by one of Middleton’s opponents, Larry L. “Butch” Brown.

Middleton must be terrified of what Brown may do to him at the polls. How else could one explain the need to start bashing your opponent weeks before qualifying even ends?

The piece attacks Brown for his having written letters to the parole board urging the release of a convicted murder and rapist. That alone wasn’t necessarily the problem.

Brown wrote the letters when he was serving as executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation and penned the letters on MDOT letterhead.

The implication was that he was using his position to influence the parole board.

Whether Brown meant that to be the case or if it was just a dumb oversight, isn’t clear.

The mail-out uses that instance to paint Brown as a politician who uses his power for evil purposes.

To add insult to injury the piece also features Brown’s police mug shot from when he was arrested at a Biloxi casino after falling asleep at a slot machine and getting into an altercation with a security guard. The casino later dropped all the charges.

“Butch Brown is bad for business and bad for Natchez,” one of the headlines on the piece reads.

Really? Will voters believe that?

Brown certainly has made more than his fair share of stupid moves — getting arrested and writing to the parole board on state stationery, just to name a few.

But to say he’s “bad for Natchez” may just be an outright falsehood.

For all his flaws — and don’t we all have some? — Brown’s record for Natchez is, at the very least long and fruitful.

His eight years in the mayor’s office led to all sorts of progress in Natchez — and his later work with MDOT has also left his mark on our city.

Bluff stabilization, the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, the Natchez Convention Center, the federal courthouse and the Natchez Trails Project were all projects in which Brown at least had a hand.

Even the much-touted recreation complex, which Middleton has yet to pull off, was originally a concept and a location that Brown dreamt up.

Those seeking political office should always run on their own records — or in the case of non-incumbents, what they plan to do if elected.

Attacking another candidate just to improve your own image is just pretty cheap, and desperate.

While it may prove successful in hoodwinking a few voters, for my money such attack ads should be treated like soiled toilet paper and promptly flushed.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.