Editorial: Disappointing attack rhetoric in Senate race

It’s been disappointing to see the campaign for the 15th District Senate seat devolve into such shrill exchanges of rhetoric practically overnight — though perhaps it was inevitable, given the short window of opportunity to reach voters.

Both sides wasted no time in unveiling attack ads. John Laird, for instance, is focusing on the fact that Sam Blakeslee once worked for Exxon — and pairing that indictment with startling pictures of the explosion of the Gulf Coast rig.

Blakeslee, on the other hand, is disingenuously describing himself as an “independent business owner” while characterizing Laird as the retired chair of the Assembly budget committee — and blaming Laird for many of the state’s budget woes.

Both sides are claiming they are being misrepresented, with some justification.

It’s wishful thinking on our part, but for the remainder of the campaign, we would hope that both sides would dial it back and focus on more thoughtful discussions, especially on the No. 1 issue facing California: dealing with the budget crisis, over the short term and long term.

We especially want to hear Blakeslee’s ideas for lasting structural reform of the budget process. And we want more specifics from Laird on how he would balance the budget.

To that end, we would strongly urge public debates.

Laird’s camp has been anxious to debate Blakeslee, though Blakeslee’s office has indicated that, because of his commitments in Sacramento, it would not be possible to do so before the June 22 election.

Should the campaign extend into August — which will be necessary if there’s no outright winner on June 22 — we would urge Blakeslee to make the time.