The state representative race between Democrat incumbent Martha Jane King and Republican challenger Chris Hightower has been an ugly one at times this year - and neither candidate is happy that an outside group has gotten involved.
Last week the political action committee (PAC) “Kentucky Family Values” started sending out mailers and running radio ads dredging up Hightower’s past as a member of a “demonic” heavy metal band.
Hightower said he is not happy about the way the group is playing dirty in the race, but he feels it has not hurt his chances in Tuesday’s election.
“I think it has helped me and hurt (King),” Hightower said. “A lot of people are sickened by this. It’s been hard on my wife and I worry about my kids and what they are hearing in school.”
King was also disgusted with the way the PAC got involved.
“This is my third race in five years and I have never had a negative ad,” King said. “I think that we should be better than that. I don’t like when our politics turn into episodes of the Jerry Springer Show.”
PACs are outside the control of either candidate and have much more freedom to run political ads than the actual individuals running for office.
“They are wrong and I don’t think that third party groups should be in my race, the presidential race, the governor’s race or any other race,” King said. “I don’t think outside money should be allowed to influence these campaigns.”
The candidates have differing views as to why the attack ads from Kentucky Family Values started.
Hightower said he believes it’s because the group thinks he has a good chance of winning the election.
“They know what is going on and apparently it is very close or I am winning or they wouldn’t be spending all this money to trash me,” Hightower said. “It’s exactly what I expected. I was basically ignored until they realized I had a chance to win this election. Once that happened, I knew they’d get the knives out and try to carve me up.”
King said she believes it’s because of similar attacks that have been happening to her for several months through online blogs and social media, such as facebook and twitter.
“It’s been going on for longer than a week,” King said. “Since July, my opponent has been attacking me on facebook and I have been attacked on a blog that he advertises on.”
King said that she has never responded to any of those negative attacks and feels that the outside group may have been aware of them and responded in kind.
“The campaigning has taken such a negative turn,” King said. “You can malign people on facebook … and I have been filmed and photographed by my opposition and then had my words taken out of context and putting them up there. When you go down that path and continue down that path - this is how it’s ended up.”
The candidates do agree on some points, however.
And that is how the majority of voters in Logan and Todd counties feel like the economy is the biggest real issue in this election.
“From Day 1, the economy has been the biggest issue with voters,” Hightower said.
Hightower said that his plan for improving the economy revolves around three main issues - cutting the state debt, lowering taxes on small business and getting right to work legislation pushed through the Kentucky legislature.
“I would be for a big cut on small businesses that make under $250,000 per year,” Hightower said. “I would even consider cutting it down to zero on the state level.”
Hightower said getting right to work laws in Kentucky would also help bring in new businesses.
“That’s the sort of thing that influences bigger businesses into where they locate,” Hightower said. “I know that leads to lower paying jobs, but I would think that a lot of people in Logan and Todd counties would love to have a job that pays $15 per hour without a lifetime pension.”
King points to her record the past four years of making cuts to the state budget when talking about the economy.
“We have cut over a billion dollars from state government and those cuts have been deep,” King said. “We’ve had state workers taking furloughs and the courthouse being shut down at times. It’s been hard, but it’s sacrifices we have had to make.”
King said that fixing the state pension plan is also a big priority when it comes to righting the economy.
“Pension reform has to happen, but I don’t believe in cutting when they’ve already started drawing it,” King said. “They have already worked and earned their pension, but we may have to look at doing something with people that are new hires.”
King said that tax reform is also needed.
“I don’t want to put a tax on services and a tax on food, but at the same time, we are going to have to look at our tax structure because it hasn’t changed in over 20 years,” King said.