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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Smear campaign in Associated Students elections

Made using Piktochart Photo credit: Gage Northcutt

Mudslinging campaigns found their way into the 2018 AS elections.

The Associated Students elections often bring out the best that Chico State has to offer. But in one particular instance, the election brought out some of the worst in Chico that I have ever seen. This was a campaign to not only undermine a candidate, but to publicly demoralize her.

This was the smear campaign of Karla Camacho.

Photo credit: Chris Woolett
Provided by: Karla Camacho

Camacho ran for AS President in the 2018 Associated Students Election. Campaigning was in full swing until a few social media posts appeared accusing Camacho of being a Trump supporter.

Camacho, while supporting Republican candidates now and in the past, is not a Trump supporter. Yet it was enough to organize what she described as a “hate campaign,” accusing her of supporting racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia.

“It was a group of people… there were a number of claims. A lot of them based primarily on assumptions that they made about me and who I was as a person. First, they were politically misguided in the understanding of my beliefs. Second of all, they were never willing to have a conversation about me and about them,” Camacho said.

Camacho claims that when trying to speak with them, they never attempted to justify or prove their claims of her being a “very avid Trump supporter.” They simply played the victim to a villain of their own making.

Camacho said while it was surprising to have this happen at first, it hadn’t really bothered her until the night of the candidate forum for the election. The group of people responsible for much of the smear campaign came to the forum to ask an assortment of loaded questions, surrounding Camacho and bombarding her with defamatory statements.

“All of a sudden there is this swarm of people coming around me, and I had no idea what was happening,” said Camacho.

This took its toll on Camacho, she described breaking down in BMU 220 after escaping the swarm. She wanted to stand on her own two feet and not give in, but she was not invincible.

Camacho lost the election. Was this due to the smear campaign? The short answer is: I don’t know. What I do know is just how ridiculous it is to try to destroy a person’s reputation with no evidence to back it up.

Though she has since then recovered, she still finds what happened to be unfair. Not only unfair to her, but to the students who may have been misled in their vote.


We live with such a heavy burden to avoid outrage culture. It is understandable to want to jump on a bandwagon and destroy a person’s reputation to feel like we’ve issued justice. However, it is dangerous to do this without evidence. We are verging on the line of no longer being justice, but mob rule.

Hopefully, we can leave the scandals in the past and have a better election cycle this term.

To the people responsible for last year’s smear campaign, I hope to hear a comment from you. Let us have, what you should’ve had a year ago, a mature conversation.

Gage Northcutt can be reached at [email protected] or @GageNorthcutt on Twitter

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