By Walter GeigerQualifying is over and the political season is officially upon us. On our electoral plate are the general and non-partisan primary on July 31 and the general election on November 6.There will be no shortage of contested races on local ballots and this year – like every election year some candidates will feel the need to resort to dirty campaigning in order to win.The presidential primary season has been exceptionally hard to stomach with political hopefuls and power brokers leaving no stone unturned in attacking opponents including those within their own parties.You can bet the showdown between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be the dirtiest presidential campaign in U.S. history.It is this ‘˜victory at all costs’ attitude that has led to smear campaigns, dirty tricks, attack ads and, most importantly, a disillusioned electorate. In a perfect world, incumbents would run on their records and those challenging them would run on their qualifications and ideas.Although there are exceptions, that’s just not the way most elections are run.Instead of touting their own accomplishments and abilities, many candidates feel the need to tear down their opponents in order to win.Usually, one candidate will fire the first salvo which prompts a response and things deteriorate rapidly from there.The blame for these attacks lies not only with those seeking office. Political donors and many voters love to see those running against their favorites attacked and, sadly, the media – particularly the national media – is all too ready to make sure everyone knows of the latest scandal be it real or contrived. All this has become an expected part of the electoral process. A clean campaign is a welcome rarity.Here’s hoping we will see clean campaigns this year – particularly on the local level.Candidates should remember it is hard to throw mud without getting at least a little on your own hands.