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Congressional race turns ugly

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Candidates might pledge to run clean campaigns, but national Democratic and Republican groups don’t have to honor those promises.

So the 5th district congressional race between Democrat Robin Weirauch and Republican Robert Latta has turned ugly. A special election will decide the race Tuesday.

Weirauch publicly chided her Republican opponent Robert Latta for dirty tactics in the primary and made political hay over his refusal to sign a clean campaign pledge.

Now her party is running attack ads targeting Latta. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is distributing print, radio and television ads that never mention Weirauch’s name, but slam Latta.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is running ads showing Weirauch in a bad light without mentioning Latta.

Both Democrats and Republicans claim that the other side is spreading lies and distortions. Both claim their ads are factual.

The national groups tout the excuse that the candidates have no control over their advertising. “We are not the Weirauch campaign. We are an independent group,” said Jennifer Crider, spokesperson for DCCC. “What they (NRCC) do is much worse.”

What can the candidates do? Not much, according to Latta.

“So much for the clean campaign pledge,” Latta said. “I’d like to get back to regular campaigning like I’ve always run where you don’t even mention your opponents name.”

He said current campaign laws don’t allow local campaigns to determine what national groups do and those groups take a no-hold-barred attitude. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said. “Through the years negative advertising has been shown to work.”

The short timetable for the special election and the fact that it is the only national election on tap just makes it worse, he added.

Weirauch’s campaign referred all questions to the DCCC.

She asked Latta to sign a clean campaign pledge immediately after the Nov. 6 primary. In the Republican side of that race, both Latta and state senator Steve Buehrer were disciplined by the Ohio Ethics Commission for spreading misleading information against each other.

When Weirauch asked Latta to guarantee a clean campaign for the general election, he said he would run a clean race without signing the pledge she wrote. Weirauch’s campaign sent out press releases praising her pledge and criticizing Latta for not signing it. She also mentioned Latta’s refusal to sign the pledge repeatedly on the campaign trail.

This isn’t the first try for the seat for either candidate. Weirauch lost to Gillmor twice, with 33 percent of the vote in 2004 and 43 percent in 2006.

Latta lost to Gillmor in the 1989 primary by 27 votes.

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