The runoff election is next Tuesday and the race that's getting the most attention in this part of the state is for the second congressional seat. And, in the Republican runoff, Jay Love and Harri Anne Smith have been engaged in a campaign filled with attack ads.
Campaigning is not new for state representative Jay Love. He's served in the state House for the past six years but this year's campaign for the congressional district two seat is probably the roughest it's ever been. Jay Love agrees. "Primaries are never fun because they're a quote unquote - a family fight."
And, this family fight has gotten downright ugly. For example, a couple of ads attack Love's vote on taxes. One says, "Jay Love tried to raise taxes by over a billion dollars. Jay Love voted for and supported the largest tax increase in the state of Alabama. That's wrong."
What he's talking about is the defeat of Amendment One by the voters about five years ago. But, before voters gave it a thumbs down, the legislature voted on almost two dozen bills in the package. Sen. Harri Anne Smith says "So, when those tax bills came up, I was the only republican senator that voted against every single tax bill in that package."
Love admits he did vote for some of those tax bills but says they all would have died if the bill to send it to the people hadn't passed, and both he and Smith voted for that bill - to let the people decide. Love says, "But, she cites the specific bill number in there as she's criticizing me and one of them is House Bill #1 and she voted for House Bill #1."
Smith also criticizes Love for voting against a bill that would make big, out of state corporations pay taxes they're not paying now. She says "It's not fair to tax Alabama companies and not tax the out of state companies." But, Love calls the corporate income tax a $72,000,000 increase on those companies. "The fact is these corporations were paying millions of dollars in taxes. But not in Alabama? Sure they are. They're paying payroll taxes. They're paying social security taxes. Their employees are contributing to the tax base. So, to say they're not paying taxes, I don't think is accurate."
But, the ad that troubles Love the most is a radio spot bhecause it gets personal. "There's a radio ad right now kind of questioning my Christianity." The beginning of the radio spot says, "He claims he's a Christian conservative. The truth is Jay Love is not conservative at all." Love had a strong reaction to that commercial. "I think that's out of bounds. That's personal attack in my mind. What hurts is and what's disappointing is it's coming from another republican." Smith says that's not the message of her ad at all. "I question whether he really is a conservative - not a Christian. I would never, never question anybody's faith."
The statewide primary election is next Tuesday. The Secretary of State says a normal election costs between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000, but they expect this election to be less because there are fewer democratic races still undecided. And, the projected turnout is about 10% of the state's registered voters.