To everyone else who sees it, the campaign logo that Tucson Republican Patricia Coleman is using in her first bid for the state legislature looks familiar. It is virtually a replica of the trademark Coleman nameplate found on lanterns and cookstoves at most any campsite in America.
And one of the candidate's campaign slogans--quality, dependability and service--does seem to parallel the Coleman Company's slogan of "quality, durability and service."
Add the fact that candidate Coleman gave away Coleman Company products as door prizes at one of her early fund raisers, and those of suspicious nature might infer a pattern.
So, is candidate Coleman ripping off the Coleman Company in her underdog bid for a House seat in strongly Republican District 12? No, she says. "My logo is not like theirs," candidate Coleman says vehemently. "In fact, I deliberately tried not to do that in designing my logo."
Hmmm. Must be the vision thing.
The candidate's protests aside, the Coleman Company has asked candidate Coleman to stop using its trademark in her campaign.
In a very polite letter last month, the company's corporate attorney told the candidate that "your use suggests a corporate endorsement from this company. There is no such endorsement."
Clearly, she's not under Coleman's big tent. "We at Coleman are not familiar with you or your platform," the lawyer wrote from Coleman's headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. "In any event, we want to remain neutral in the electoral process in Pima County."
Like most corporations, the Coleman Company jealously guards its trademark and the reputation that accompanies it, says spokesman Charles McIlwaine. This is the first time McIlwaine is aware of that a political candidate has tried to appropriate the logo, he says.
Although it is unhappy with the situation, the company probably will not do anything to force Patricia Coleman to change her literature, McIlwaine says. From a practical standpoint, there just isn't enough time between now and the September 8 primary to take legal action, he says.
Patricia Coleman says she has no intention of changing her logo, since as far as she's concerned it is not an imitation of the company's.
"Put your name in there and see if there's a resemblance," she says. "It's just because my name is Coleman."
For a rookie politician, candidate Coleman is proving quite adept at denying the obvious, McIlwaine acknowledges. Perhaps, he says, "it's indigenous to the entire breed."
But some Pima County Republicans are not amused. Sam Morey, former party chairman in Coleman's district and the person who turned her in to the company, says her theft of the logo and ensuing denials are "intellectual fraud."
"I think what she's doing here to Coleman is despicable," says Morey. "We're trying to clean up ethics at the statehouse, and you have this person running who's doing something very unethical. It's apparently fraudulent. Do we need that?"
The candidate, however, says Morey and other party leaders are out to sink her campaign because she entered the race without their blessing. "I'm a newcomer to Pima County politics," she says. "I dropped out of nowhere. The party had already decided who the two candidates would be."
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A 55-year-old who runs a medical insurance and transcription service, Coleman says she is running uphill in the race with Freddie Hershberger and Dan Schottell in a GOP primary that will effectively fill two open seats. (Both incumbents are stepping down, and no Democrats are running.)
Coleman's campaign literature pledges "frugality" and a return to "traditional family values."
It's unclear where she stands on traditional family cookouts.
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