Negative runoff campaigns: Candidate reactions

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The polls are open again for candidates in the runoff election and it is once again a close race. With less than one-week left to campaign some candidates and organizations are pulling some last minute punches.

Negative politics have been around since our founding fathers, but nowadays everywhere we look we can't help but be surrounded by attack advertising. It seems the tighter the race the more accusations emerge.

Whether negative advertising actually persuades voters is subject to debate, but one thing is sure, candidates take it very seriously.

U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln says, "I am very hopeful that Arkansans will rise above and put aside all of this negative advertising that has occurred. Again, a majority of the negative ads coming from outside our state. This election is no longer about me or Bill Halter; it's about the outside groups."

Lt. Governor Bill Halter adds, "The two outside groups won't even reveal who their funders are."

Also in a heated runoff are Robbie Wills and Joyce Elliott.

Wills explains the mailer his campaign sent out about Elliott, "Joyce earlier in the campaign, in process of attacking me on my record, said it was fair game to challenge another candidate on their record. Saying that it was not negative and our responsibility to do, so that's what this is about."

Elliott refutes this, clarifying, "I absolutely agree it's proper to hold ourselves accountable but in the process of holding one accountable we can't misconstrue one's record."

All four candidates say the majority of their ad dollars have been used on their own positive image. So when should a candidate spend advertising dollars to target their opponent?

Lincoln says, "There's a big difference in flat out negative ads or flat out rebuttals or comparative ads."

Halter explains, "Just because you spend 2 million telling a lie in an ad, doesn't make the ad true, it just makes it a loud lie."

Courtesy of the American Political Science Review, in a recent bipartisan review, of those surveyed:

•59% believe that most candidates deliberately twist the truth.

•45% believe some candidates deliberately make unfair attacks on their opponents.

•87% are concerned about the level of personal attacks in today's political campaigns.

"Until you know who is funding this, you don't what their motive is. That's why the second bill I'll introduce as a senator is to close these loopholes on the campaign finance laws so we will have total transparency," Halter says.

All candidates say their career records are on their web sites and that's the best place to check your facts.

A lot of Arkansans have already placed their ballots in the runoff elections. According to the Secretary of State's office, as of Wednesday afternoon, more than 21,000 of us took advantage of early voting. More than 1,800 absentee ballots have been returned. That's a total of more than 23,000 votes across the state.

Runoff elections will be held on June 8 and you can vote early from June 1-7.

Katherina- Marie Yancy, Today’s THV

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