HD 47 GOP Primary: Attack-Ad Tussle

KLBJ caught in middle of attack-ad dispute

In the closing days of a campaign, it's not surprising when candidates get desperate and ads turn negative. But the Republican primary in House District 47 started off negative and has stayed that way, as local construction magnate Paul Workman has repeatedly savaged corporate attorney Holly White Turner. On the issues, there are very few policy differences between the two, as well as third candidate David Sewell, so Workman's campaign has gone for the double attack of calling Turner a "lawyer and carpetbagger."

On Feb. 19, Workman's campaign manager, Eric Bearse, accused Turner of demanding that local radio station KLBJ pull one of Workman's ads but that "KLBJ refused her request." The 60-second spot tackled the fact that Turner only moved to Austin in 2009 and alleged that she still had a homestead exemption in Fort Worth. KLBJ VP Market Man­ager Scott Gillmore confirmed that he had received a cease-and-desist letter from Turn­er's lawyers, asking the station to pull the ad. "We conferred with our lawyers, and they said we could not do that," he explained. "We don't have to accept advertising from a state or local candidate, but if we do, then we have to accept their opponent's advertising in a similar schedule." Turner had started running ads with KLBJ on Feb. 15 – three days before the Workman spot was broadcast – so KLBJ was legally bound to give him equal airtime.

Turner said she had not heard the Work­man attack piece and that the complaint was actually sent by her staff. She refused to speculate why Workman (who, as the radio spot notes, is not a native Austinite either) has continued playing the carpetbagger card. However, she added, "I know, as a general rule, in a three-way race you never attack unless you absolutely have to." As for the specifics of Workman's attack, she said she no longer has a Fort Worth home, adding: "The people who know me know that I did not move here to run. I moved here to be closer to my family."

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Paul Workman, Holly Turner, David Sewell, House District 47, KLBJ, election

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