Robin Weirauch, Democratic candidate for Ohio's 5th Congressional District, wants a signed truce banning negative campaigning.
Republican Robert Latta, her opponent, believes his actions will speak louder than words and promised to run a clean campaign without the formality of a signed pledge.
Weirauch suggested both candidates sign a pledge drafted by her campaign after watching a bitter battle between Latta and Steve Buehrer in the Republican primary. Both Latta's and Buehrer's camps were reprimanded by the Ohio Elections Commission for lying about each other's records.
Latta's primary campaign said that Buehrer opposed prayer in public schools and the posting of the Ten Commandments in public buildings. Buehrer's campaign and a conservative political action committee distributed incorrect information about Latta's 1998 vote in the Ohio Senate regarding a voter referendum on a sales tax hike. The commission ruled the campaigns had knowingly given voters false information in both cases.
Each of the Republicans was trying to woo the district's conservative voters that have put Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Tiffin) in Congress since 1990. Gillmor died unexpectedly after a fall in his Washington home in September. His seat will be filled in a special election on Dec. 11.
The 5th district seat has been held by a Republican since the 1930s, including Latta's father, Del Latta, from 1959 to 1989. Gillmor narrowly defeated Robert Latta in the primary to take over the seat when his father retired.
Weirauch has also previously run for the 5th district seat. Just 11 months have passed since Weirauch lost to Gillmor in her second bid for the seat. She garnered 33 percent of the vote in 2004 and 43 percent in 2006. A former assistant director of the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University, Weirauch now devotes all of her time to her election campaign.
Weirauch said she wanted the rest of the campaign to focus on issues, not mud-slinging. "Over the past two months this campaign has gotten out of control and it is my belief that the best interests of the constituents of Ohio's 5th district are not being well served by the tone thus far," she said.
"I believe that our campaigns owe it to the district to wage a campaign based on the issues and our experience, rather than stoop to the level of petty personal attacks," she said.
Brad Bauman, communications director for her campaign, said a letter asking Latta to sign the pledge was hand-delivered to his office nine days ago. "I just don't get it," Bauman said. "All we are asking for is a commitment to refrain from personal attacks. I don't think that's too much to ask."
Robert Latta now represents Ohio's 6th house district, a seat he has held since 2001. He served in the Ohio Senate from 1997 to 2001.
Matt Parker, Latta's campaign manager, called the pledge suggested by Weirauch "vague" and said it was "just a piece of paper."
Parker said the negative publicity in the primary "was definitely an aberration in Mr. Latta's career. Frankly, our campaign is looking forward to running a good, clean campaign," Parker said
"Obviously in the primary with the influence of some outside groups, he had to defend himself.
"Bob Latta is used to running positive campaigns that focus on the issues that are important to northwest Ohio and the nation and he's going to do that in this election," Parker said.