CHAMPAIGN — The major party candidates in the 13th Congressional District are bemoaning that third-party groups are airing TV attack ads in the new district that arcs from Urbana southwest to Collinsville.
Republican Rodney Davis said he is disappointed but not surprised that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running a negative television commercial attempting to tie him to imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan.
"It's a typical attack ad. It's expected. We expected to be attacked because we're right on the issues," said Davis, the Taylorville Republican opposing Democrat David Gill and independent John Hartman in the Nov. 6 election. "The Democrats and David Gill don't want to talk about his view on taxes and wanting to not extend the current tax rates, as I want to extend all the current tax rates permanently to give businesses the certainty they need."
And Gill, a Bloomington emergency room physician, said he is the target of negative ads running in some parts of the district.
"There have been commercials running for weeks now in the Metro East region and here in Bloomington, attack ads, by people supportive of Rodney Davis," Gill said. "This didn't start with me, this attack thing. And frankly I have nothing to do with the DCCC commercials. I didn't know anything about them until they were on the air. The DCCC is not under my control by any means."
Gill said the ads attacking him are from a group called Americans for Prosperity.
"I haven't seen the commercials, but I've been told that they imply that a vote for David Gill is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and that they repeat these lies about me wanting to raise taxes," Gill said.
"I don't want to raise taxes on any family making less than a quarter-million dollars a year. I've said that over and over and over again. And these people supportive of Rodney Davis continue to lie with regards to that. What I say regarding to taxes is that in addition to holding the line on people making less than a quarter million a year that we should have millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in this country."
Davis said the DCCC-sponsored television ad, which began running on WCIA and WCIX on Thursday, offers "a very stark contrast in how to start a campaign."
Davis started his own television advertising on Thursday with a introductory spot showing him coaching a youth football team and talking about reducing the federal debt.
The DCCC ad tied Davis to the imprisoned ex-governor, although Davis worked for Ryan for 3 years while he was secretary of state and not governor.
"I'm starting off by introducing myself and talking about the economy and the debt that we're leaving our kids at about $50,000 per person," Davis said. "I'm not saying I expected the hit that they gave me, but I expected to be attacked. I expected that they would go negative completely because their goal is to get people to vote against me by not liking me because they are wrong on the issues and we're right on the issues."
Asked how he would have responded if the National Republican Congressional Committee had started with a negative ad against Gill, Davis was noncommittal.
"If the NRCC sent out an ad unbeknownst to us attacking our opponent right out of the gate, we'd have been disappointed because we wanted the message to get out about what I plan to do in Washington, and talking about the debt that the current spending policies of the Democrats and the White House are going to leave every child," Davis said. "The problem is now that they've begun attacking me, they've basically taken this race and turned it into a slugfest.
"At this point we're going to have to respond and it's disappointing. We're going to have to respond to ads that are misleading and not truthful. We haven't figured out how or why or when but the fact of the matter is when they offer up an ad that is so inaccurate we have to address it because they've started this process of attacking."
Gill said although there has been no agreement on face-to-face debates between the congressional candidates, he is optimistic they will be held.
"I hope so. I think there has been dialogue with regards to debates," he said. "I'd be happy to debate him any number of times and place because I think the majority of people are on my side with regard to the issues."
Davis raised a new issue Thursday night, saying that he supports a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, although he did not endorse a particular proposal.
"I don't know specific language right now, but the concept would be to put together a balanced-budget amendment that would require Washington to live within its means," Davis said.
The new Republican Party platform offers a balanced-budget amendment that would force Congress to balance the budget without raising taxes and with a cap on federal spending.
"We call for a constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority for any tax increase, with exceptions for only war and national emergencies, and imposing a cap limiting spending to the historical average percentage of GDP so that future Congresses cannot balance the budget by raising taxes," the platform says.
Gill said he would oppose a balanced-budget amendment.
"That is not an amendment that I would vote for," the Democrat said. "While I think the deficit is a very important matter and that we should deal with it in a responsible way, I think there are times when crises can occur in America. We can be attacked by another nation and we should not put ourselves in a position where we are hamstrung in addressing the crisis with an injudicious constitutional amendment."