Truth test: Buddy Carter vs. Bob Johnson

By Dave Kartunen, WSAV-TV
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Bob Johnson vs. Buddy Carter campaign commercials

SAVANNAH, Ga. - You know a race has gotten ugly when the sinister voices come out in the ads.

Georgia Congressional District 1 candidates Buddy Carter and Bob Johnson have launched an all-out war of attack ads on the airwaves, so we'll truth test them together.

Both are fighting for the conservative mantel, so you don't have to guess about the issues.

Johnson's campaign ad claims Carter called Obamacare "not so bad." Their so-called smoking gun came from a tiny clip from Carter's announcement of his candidacy where -- before Carter goes into an attack on Obamacare -- he concedes that some things about it are working. Of course, the Johnson campaign does not include his attack.

Not that the Carter campaign has been any better. His ad calls Johnson a "dues-paying member and received money from groups who support Obamacare."

That nefarious outfit: the American Medical Association. Because, well, you know, Bob Johnson is a doctor.

For their part, the AMA negotiated provisions of the health care bill with the White House in exchange for its support.

Carter's campaign goes on to accuse Johnson of having "a history of supporting Democrats." As proof, they point to a 10-year-old letter to the editor Johnson wrote to the Savannah Morning News. In it, Johnson declares his support for a state legislative primary candidate who was under suspicion of being a Republican plant in the race.

And what would a Republican ad war be without a fight over taxes?

Johnson's ad claims Carter "voted to raise taxes dozens of times and increased spending by 84 percent."

His campaign, however, could only list 11 votes on the screen. Not even a dozen. And four of those votes happened in a five-minute span over the same bill.

Carter did increase spending by 84 percent if you use some spectacular math.

First, you must forget that as a state legislator, Carter represented 1/180th of one house of one branch of the government. His stake got slightly higher in the state senate, where he represented 1/56th of the body.

Then you can only calculate state budgets since 2008, despite the fact that Carter has been in office longer than that. 2008, of course, was when the global economy went into meltdown and the Georgia state government was propped up by billions of dollars of federal stimulus money just to remain in operation.

If you calculate the amount of state spending during the crisis levels of 2008 to the 2014 budget, where the state remains under a budget crunch, 84 percent loses some of its sting.

The primary runoff election is July 22.  Negative ads like these can motivate the hardest core of supporters to get out to vote while -- probably not unintentionally -- disenchanting many voters that remain on the fence.

The winner of the Republican nomination will face the winner of a Democratic runoff between Brian Reese and Amy Tavio -- a quiet race by comparison -- in the November General Election.