Attack Ads: One Candidate In Runoff Sole Target - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/09/04 - East Texas

Attack Ads: One Candidate In Runoff Sole Target

Negative ads against Paul Sadler have come from the political action committee Texans For Lawsuit Reform.

Narrated by a veteran of Desert Storm, it attacks a Sadler vote in the Texas House in 1997.

It says: "When Paul Sadler was a member of the Legislature, he voted to deny our troops the right to vote in state and local elections."

About that vote: In 1996, two Republicans in heavily Democratic Val Verde County along the Mexican Border were elected, pushed over the top by some 800 votes mailed in by members of the military. The validity of the votes was questioned, but nothing was ever proven.

The next year, Democratic legislators including Sadler supported a plan to require overseas military voters to provide to the state a permanent address to vote in a local election-- that in addition to the federal registration card.

But Republicans said it's an extra hardship troops at war don't need. In the face of a veto by then- Governor Bush, the Democratic plan was withdrawn.

The ad continues: "When you say 'no' to Paul Sadler, you say 'yes' to our troops."

The military issue has surfaced again seven years later.

Sadler disputes the new ads.

"The U.S. Constitution guarantees all military men and women the right to vote as it does all American citizens. It's just a false ad," Sadler says.

Ken Hogeland is with Texans For Lawsuit Reform: "The simple fact is it made it far more difficult for military personnel overseas to vote in state and local elections."

It would have added an extra step, but the ad says that Sadler "voted to deny" the military the right to vote.

No language in the bill specifically denies that right.

A new TLD ad just out this week now uses the word "deters" -- Hogeland says -- because of questions about the word "deny".

Whether anyone would have been deterred or discouraged from voting will never be known.

TLR says they do not question Sadler's patriotism and that these ads are personal attacks.

Hogeland: "It's not personal to simply talk about a person's record. That belongs in this campaign."

Sadler disagrees: "They've taken a single amendment out of context. It infuriated me and it still does."

TLR says ads about Sadler's record on the issue will continue. The election is a week from Tuesday.

Morgan Palmer, reporting.

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