On ‘unrelenting smears’ in House District 13 fight

Democrat Gloria Johnson held a news conference Monday calling attack ads against her “unrelenting smears” and calling on her Republican opponent in House District 13, Eddie Smith, to join her in denouncing them, reports the News Sentinel.  He did not.

She mentioned ads from a group called Tennesseans for Student Success, and efforts by the Tennessee Republican House Caucus against her in the news release. (Note: The House GOP ad may be viewed HERE as posted on the  Caucus Facebook page.)

“I don’t know how many polls they’ve done,” she said. “Today, the poll’s question was ‘how would it affect your vote if Gloria was the most liberal legislator?” They’re trying to hurt … they’re trying to find something to land.”

Johnson wrote that the campaign ads attacking her are “signs of desperation because they know our message of investing in schools, making health care more affordable and strengthening the middle class is winning.”

She demanded that Smith tell the people behind the advertising and polling to stop.

Johnson said Tennesseans for Student Success has claimed to support education, but that ads from that group have attacked her on matters that don’t have anything to do with education.

Smith said he hasn’t seen the material from Tennesseans for Student Success, but had seen a video put out by the Tennessee Republican House Caucus.

“As far as I can tell, nothing in that ad is not true,” Smith said. He added that if she isn’t pleased with the voting record mentioned in the ad, then she could’ve voted otherwise while in office. He previously has said he opposes push polling – the act of conducting a poll during which the pollster will ask bias questions toward or away from a certain candidate.

He also said that the ads didn’t come from his campaign. And he called her move for a press conference “hypocrisy.”

Note: Johnson’s campaign news release is below.

News release from Gloria Johnson campaign:

Knoxville, TN  –  On Monday, October 31, Gloria Johnson, a retired special education teacher running for State House District 13, held a press conference denouncing the false attacks being made by special interest groups and called on her opponent, Eddie Smith to denounce the untrue claims.  

“This weekend, while spending a morning with my 82 year old Republican mother–who was getting ready for church–we happened upon the most untrue ad that has ever been aired against me.  The falsehoods are being told by my opponents’ big money caucus friends in Nashville. They refer to our campaign as a “nightmare” and includes THREE outright lies about my record of service” said Johnson.

The reference is to an ad that that began airing on television this weekend, paid for by the Republican House Caucus.

“I call on my opponent to denounce these ads and to ask that the caucus — which he is a member of — to take the ads down.”  Johnson continued, “He is a member of the caucus that paid for this dishonest TV ad. It is false equivalency to say I have made similar attacks. He voted to raise taxes on disabled veterans. He voted for charters and vouchers. He voted to cut taxes on corporations and took donations from corporations that benefited. Those aren’t “back door” twists on bills he voted for, they are straightforward facts and I stand by them.”

Additionally, Knox County School Board Member Jennifer Owen added comments regarding another outside special interest group that is spending money in the race, Tennesseans for Student Success.  Owens, a resident of House District 13 stated, “I have received several very negative mailers from Tennesseans for Student Success, and just this morning I had another call from Tennesseans for Student Success. I asked the caller who sponsored them and he couldn’t tell me anything about them. He couldn’t find anyone in the call center to tell me anything about the organization. So, I think that is very telling that we have an organization where the people making the calls can’t even tell us who they are. I would call on them to disclose their financial donors, and let us know what their issues really are.”

Johnson added, “as a lifelong teacher and candidate for State Representative, I would expect an organization truly interested in schools to at least speak to a teacher before they unleashed meritless attacks, but they have not. I ask that Tennesseans for Student Success disclose their donors.”

Additionally, Knox County local pro education group, SPEAK (Students, Parents, and Educators Across Knox County) has offered two dates for a public forum this week.  Johnson stated she plans to attend the forum and offered, “I am available and I hope my opponent–who I am told has yet to respond–will make himself available as well. The students, parents and educators of House District 13 deserve to be able to ask us both questions and hear where we stand–not where my opponent’s special interest supporters stand.”

Johnson has created a new website to expose the false claims being made and offer the real facts behind the false claims being made by both the Republican House Caucus and Tennesseans for Student Success.  The facts can be seen here:  www.votegloriajohnson.com/truth

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