ATLANTA -- A new batch of ads attacking both of the Senate Republican candidates are on the air, living up to predictions that the runoff would be heated and negative.
Jack Kingston and David Perdue are under attack by separate ads that try to paint each as less conservative than the other. And both camps complain of deliberate distortions.
The ad aimed at Perdue hammers on the theme of higher taxes. It says Perdue wants to raise them, including a sales tax on all online purchases, while Kingston “has never voted to raise our taxes. Never.”
At the same time, Kingston is being hit with a spot attacking his career in Congress for spending “our tax dollars on thousands of wasteful earmarks, all while voting to raise his own pay seven times.” He also voted repeatedly with the House leadership in raising the debt ceiling. “Jack’s 22 years of liberal spending has to stop,” an announcer intones.
The ad attacking Perdue is only airing in on Atlanta television stations because Kingston’s ability to take three out of every four votes counted May 20 in East and South Georgia shows he doesn’t need much help there. It was conceived and paid for by a political action committee called Southern Conservatives Fund which is prohibited by law from coordinating messages with Kingston’s campaign, and it’s the only television advertising on his behalf right now, notes Eric Johnson, a former Savannah legislator and gubernatorial candidate who speaks for the PAC.
Johnson said large donations have flowed into the organization which has fewer constraints than candidates. In the meantime, Kingston has been replenishing his own campaign coffers.
“We’ve been getting up (on the air) while he reloads because he can’t self-fund,” Johnson said, alluding to the fact that Perdue dips into his personal wealth to supplement contributions.
The attack on Perdue stems partly from a comment he made during a meeting with the editors of the Macon Telegraph in which he said that he hoped to increase federal revenues by growing the economy.
Johnson defends the ad.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration. It’s like John Kerry saying he was for it before he was against it. Perdue’s been backpedalling ever since,” Johnson said.
The meeting transcript and an editor in the meeting show he didn’t advocate boosting tax rates.
“Congressman Kingston and his establishment allies continue to spend special-interest money on negative ads that have been proven to be untrue,” said Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey.
However, Perdue did say during a forum that he supports a national sales tax to replace the income tax and that it should apply to online purchases. Dickey argues that is not a new tax and that it wouldn’t amount to an increase the way Perdue wants to structure it.
The Kingston camp isn’t squawking as loudly about the mud coming his way. The Congressional Record reports how he voted, and he acknowledges using budget earmarks as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee to fund projects in Georgia. But his supporters argue the liberal label doesn’t fit.
Negative ads are likely to continue and even increase in coming days. The low turnout in May has both campaigns scrambling to figure out a strategy for reaching the tiny number expected to vote in next month’s runoff in the midst of vacation season.
“I think everybody is struggling with what is the best way to reach the GOP primary voters,” Johnson said.