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Blunt and Gaw go negative

October 30, 2000
By: John Sheridan
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - With just days until the election, secretary of state candidates Steve Gaw and Matt Blunt are waging an advertising battle, criticizing each other's records and integrity.

In early October, the Republican Blunt began airing television commercials that his campaign officials say "have a positive message," but recently, Blunt's ads have turned negative.

The Blunt campaign says it is responding to Democrat Steve Gaw's negative ads that accuse Blunt of taking $29,000 from the securities industry he would regulate as secretary of state, and of taking a pay raise when he was a state representative - a raise the ad says Gaw refused.

The Gaw ad says, "Matt Blunt-if we can't trust his campaign, how can we trust him as secretary of state?"

Blunt campaign manager Spence Jackson denies Gaw's charges.

"He (Gaw) and his colleagues pushed for that pay increase in the middle of the night. It is the fourteenth time he voted to increase his pension and pay. He clearly has a record of working to pass legislation to increase his pay," Jackson said.

But the Gaw ad didn't catch the Blunt campaign by surprise.

Jackson says his camp anticipated Gaw going negative and that they already taped a commercial in response to Gaw's ads, even before the spots aired.

In the ad the Blunt campaign says it aired to refute Gaw's spot, Blunt accuses Gaw of attacking him for receiving political party contributions.

The ad also says it is Gaw who has taken more party contributions, and has voted many times to increase his own salary, passing the bill off on to taxpayers, statements the Gaw officials say are misleading.

"Steve Gaw voted to increase quality, but he did not accept the money," Corey Dillon, Gaw campaign manager said.

Dillon also said the Blunt figure that Gaw voted to increase his salary and pension fourteen times was due to cost of living cost of living increases.

Television is not the only place where the war of words between the two camps is being fought, off the airwaves salvos are being fired by the competing camps.

The Gaw campaign accuses Blunt of being a son of privilege, because Blunt's father was Missouri secretary of state from 1985-92, and is currently a U.S. congressman from Springfield.

Dillon also notes what the Gaw campaign considers a suspicious contribution from Blunt's father.

The Blunt campaign refutes the accusation and counters desperation has set in for Gaw.

"With eleven days left he has failed to offer a positive vision. There is a sense of hopelessness over there," Jackson said.