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Raleigh City Council candidate Mary-Ann Baldwin is the victim of a high-tech version of old-time gutter politics.

Supporters of an opponent, Russ Stephenson, set up a fake blog purporting to be by Baldwin.

To give you a taste of the tone, one of the fake postings was signed “Mary Fucking Baldwin.” Nice.

There’s nothing new about campaign dirty tricks. Witness the Nixon crowd in the 70s. Or the pranks legendary trickster Dick Tuck played on Nixon in 1960.

There is a darker side, however: the doctored photographs in 1950 that purported to show Frank Porter Graham dancing with a black woman. And the fake middle-of-the-night phone calls to white voters from “The Harlem Committee to Elect Frank Graham.”

I’m sure the anonymous Raleigh bloggers – if they were brave enough to identify themselves – would defend their blog as a harmless joke. And it sounds like it was closer to Dick Tuck than Dick Nixon, although some of the material has apparently been taken down.

But the joke could backfire.

If I was running Mary Ann’s campaign, I’d send a mailing that brings the blog to the attention of every single voter. Ask a simple question: Is this the kind of politics you want in Raleigh? (By the way, I wouldn’t waste my time writing letters to Google asking it to take down the blog.)

If I was running Russ Stephenson’s campaign, I’d have him denounce the blog – fast. Silence is consent.

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