Westside politickin': Lambert, Merrifield take different tacks opposing negative ads

       Kent Lambert, Republican candidate for House District 18, asked the State Republican Party in writing Oct. 19 to discontinue inflammatory literature against his opponent, incumbent Democrat Michael Merrifield.
       “We are doing everything possible to run a fact-based campaign, and negative personal caricatures of my opponent are in extremely bad taste, and are distracting to our issues and our message,” Lambert said in a press release.
       The request followed the party's mailing out a flyer in mid-October with an unflattering photo of Merrifield, ostensibly in a prison setting, related to incidents in which the representative has missed certain campaign filing deadlines as required by law. The mailing came shortly after El Paso County District Attorney Jeanne Smith decided not to file a criminal charge against Merrifield for failing to report free rent for political uses at a house on Colorado Avenue.
       Smith told the Westside Pioneer the statute refers to “willful” violation of the law and she did not believe that had been the case with Merrifield.
       In his Oct. 19 press release, Lambert also called on Merrifield to “publicly disavow and acknowledge the inaccuracies in recent mail, radio, and television advertisements - apparently from an independent '527' organization-that falsely and blatantly misrepresent” his (Lambert's) positions on health care.”
       “Because of my experience, reducing health care cost, especially for small businesses, is a cornerstone of my campaign,” he said. “I have gone out of my way to encourage insurance purchasing pools for small companies through the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. I strongly advocate reduced insurance costs through increased competition, eliminating excessive mandates and restrictions on unlimited lawsuit abuse,” Lambert said.
       Merrifield, contacted for a response Oct. 19, said it was the first he had heard of Lambert's disavowal request and needed time to review the matter. He had not responded by the Pioneer's deadline Oct. 20; however, his campaign sent out a press release Oct. 20 announcing that he will introduce a bill next session “increasing the penalties for knowingly making false statements related to a candidate or an issue on the ballot.” In the release, Merrifield was quoted as saying, “I believe negative campaigning and providing inaccurate information to the public is undermining our voters' ability to make informed decisions on the issues that are important to them.”
       A health issue has hampered the Merrifield campaign as the election nears. He was going in for surgery to repair a torn retina Oct. 20. He said the overall impact would be a week in which he would be unable to campaign. “It's extremely frustrating,” he said.
       Early voting for the general election started Oct. 18 and will continue to be available for registered voters through Friday, Oct. 29 (including Saturday, Oct. 23).
       The nearest location to the Westside is the El Paso County Election Department's Downtown Office, 200 Cascade Ave. The hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       For more information, call the Election Department at 575-8683.

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Westside Pioneer from press releases