Examining Negative Ads As District 11 Candidates Lament Mudslinging - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/23/06-Jacksonville

Examining Negative Ads As District 11 Candidates Lament Mudslinging

The race for State Representative District 11 has been one of the most talked about and one of the nastiest races in East Texas this year. And both incumbent Democrat Chuck Hopson, and Republican Larry Durrett say negative ads will continue, until the other side stops telling lies.

First, a set of ads from Democrat Chuck Hopson claiming Durrett wants amnesty for illegal aliens.

"Durrett wants amnesty which rewards people who break the law," says one Hopson ad.

Our research could not find Durrett has ever used the word "amnesty", but he did tell the Kilgore News-Herald, "If a couple comes across the border illegally and brings two children with them and then they have three more kids... Are you going to deport? That doesn't make any sense to me."

Monday, Durrett told us that's not amnesty, and is a problem for the federal government, not the Legislature.

"Chuck [Hopson] is simply trying to make political points with something he knows we have nothing to do with," Durrett says.

Another Hopson ad says: "Durrett told the news media something has to be worked out so [illegal immigrants] can stay here."

Durrett was quoted in the Kilgore paper as saying immigrants should "learn the language, [and] obey the law. That something has to be worked out so they can stay here."

But Durrett said Monday he is firmly against any amnesty, that the whole story has not been told.

"They need to go to the back of the line. I said that in that interview.  That did not necessarily make it -- didn't make it into that article.  They need to go to the back of the line," Durrett says.

Meanwhile, Hopson has been the target of ads by the Durrett campaign.

One ad says: "Liberal Democrat Chuck Hopson voted to give taxpayer-subsidized college tuition to illegal aliens."

Hopson did vote to allow an alien who has applied or has a petition pending to get lawful residency in the United States college tuition and fees at state-resident rates.   But Hopson claims the issue is moot -- that one can't get into college if they just walked across the border.

"If you have a green card, if you have a student visa, if you have an application for any of those and if you meet resident requirements, that makes a huge difference," Hopson says.

Another ad says: "[Hopson] voted to make it easier for illegal aliens to get Texas drivers' licenses."

Hopson did vote to allow a foreign identification document to be used to get a Texas drivers' license, if the document could be verified by the DPS. But presently, DPS requires aliens to supply supporting documents they'd receive upon legal entry.

"That bill was designed to give a person who is the country legally to give DPS the ability to get a license if they wanted to," Hopson says.

Candidates "Can't" Talk About Anything Else

Is immigration really the most important issue to voters in District 11?  Both candidates say no.

Once the war of words began, both say there was no going back.

Hopson says, "I would love to stop the negative campaigning. But when my opponent attacks my record, I believe in record votes.  I'm going to have to get out there and tell people the truth."

Durrett says, "As soon as he stops telling people that I am in favor of amnesty when I'm not and telling other untruths, [the negative ads would stop.] I'd love to have the opportunity to tell people what I really plan to do."

There are two weeks for the course of the campaign to change. Neither candidate indicates anything will.

Ironically, both Larry Durrett and Chuck Hopson say they were friends. In fact, Hopson once hunted at Durrett's deer lease. But both told us today, they are solely focused on winning the job.

Morgan Palmer, Reporting morganpalmer@kltv.com

Powered by Frankly