TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The gloves are off in one of the most hotly-contested primaries in northeast Kansas.
Three-term Republican House member Joe Patton is trying to unseat two-term incumbent Vicki Schmidt in the 20th State Senate district.
The campaign has featured strong words from both sides - and the outside.
Schmidt is putting what she calls negative attacks from challenger Patton at the center of at least one television ad. It enlists a quote from the late Pres. Ronald Reagan that Republicans should not attack fellow Republicans.
Schmidt says she find the tone of the campaign "disappointing." She says she asked Patton to sign a clean campaign pledge and he declined. She also says there is an effort to "nationalize" the campaign, pointing to third-party mailings associating her with Pres. Obama and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Patton acknowledges third-party groups have sent mailings some might consider negative. (Third parties have sent mailings on Schmidt's behalf, too.) As for his own actions, Patton says he's only pointing out what he calls Schmidt's liberal voting record. He says the two have voting records that are mirror opposites and he doesn't believe it is negative to point that out.
A primary point of attack is taxes. Patton says Schmidt's votes include one in favor of the second-largest tax hike in state history. Asked if there is there any situation under he you would support a tax increase, Patton emphatically replied, "No." He says to fund schools and other services, such as those for people with disabilities, the state needs revenues and those revenues come from creating jobs. Higher taxes, he says, stifle job creation.
Schmidt says the vote to which Patton refers was for a one-percent sales tax that would expire after three years. She says it was about compromise in the face of recession that already saw more than a billion dollars in spending slashed. Too have voted against it, she says, would have drastically cut services to those in need and she believes that Topekans, while fiscally conservative, also are compassionate.
Both hope to leave the same impression with voters - that they are the conservative candidate.
The winner of the Aug. 7 primary faces Democrat Terry Crowder in November.
Patton and Schmidt also talk about health care, state worker increases, past accomplishments and their priorities in the full interviews, which are included above.