The Associated Press
LEXINGTON - Ernie Fletcher's gubernatorial campaign Thursday began airing a statewide television commercial to counter the first attack ad of his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Ben Chandler.
The 30-second spot accuses Chandler of "slinging that mud again." It shows a a small terrier furiously digging in dirt.
The Chandler campaign ad claims Fletcher has a record of "voting with the drug companies" as the 6th District congressman.
Chandler has frequently zeroed on a Fletcher vote against allowing U.S. consumers to import American-made prescription drugs.
Fletcher claims he has voted for "reimportation" of drugs from Canada and Mexico but that the legislation he voted against would have covered as many as 25 countries, raising a drug-safety issue.
Chandler claims the issue is reduced profits for pharmaceutical companies that donate to Republican causes, including the Republican Governors Association, which has paid for TV ads attacking him.
In the new Fletcher ad, a narrator says "Chandler's drug ad is not true" and that Fletcher "voted four times to lower drug costs; every time it guaranteed safe prescriptions."
Asked about the "slinging mud" spot, Chandler said Fletcher "went negative first" in the campaign.
"Not only did he go negative, he and his associates at the Republican Governors Association put up ads that were false," Chandler told reporters in Lexington.
Fletcher denies his campaign has coordinated with the RGA, which would be illegal under campaign finance laws.
Also Thursday, the RGA said its ad comparing Chandler's ethics to those of Gov. Paul Patton mistakenly stated that Chandler created a conflict of interest "by taking money from Patton's own defense lawyer," Sheryl Snyder.
The attorney general's office is investigating whether Patton traded official favors for sex with Tina Conner.
Snyder denied being a contributor, though he was listed with about 40 other "hosts" on an invitation to a January fund-raiser in Louisville.
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