WASHINGTON - The 8th Congressional District race has turned predictably ugly in a way that is beginning to show something of the personalities of the candidates involved. This time, it's Stephen Fincher beating up on his Republican opponent, Dr. Ronald Kirkland of Jackson, and Kirkland slugging back.
In his latest television ad, Fincher approved a message attacking Kirkland for agreeing to work both sides of the aisle if he's elected to the seat from which John Tanner is retiring.
"Most Republicans want to fight the Obama, big government agenda, but Ron Kirkland says he'll work with Democrats instead," a woman's voice says. Then there's a clip of Kirkland saying he'll - gasp - "try to work with Democrats."
You know, the people currently in the majority in Congress.
The ad goes on to say that Kirkland "and groups he lead" have even given money to "liberal Democrats." It ends by saying, "Is this really a time to reach across the aisle?" The ad has images of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Charles Rangel.
Kirkland came back with a fast counter-punch in a message e-mailed to The Commercial Appeal and supporters Friday. Perhaps the most effective line: "Now is not the time for the childish partisanship of inexperienced young men."
In the message, Kirkland said Fincher, the presumed front-runner, is attacking him because he's fallen behind.
"Sadly, that is what Stephen Fincher is doing here - listening to his Washington handlers instead of the people of Tennessee," Kirkland says.
Kirkland acknowledges he's willing to work "with anyone of any party and any background to enact conservative policies that will save our country and serve the best interests of Tennesseans." He also acknowledges that he has given money to Democrats who are friends (he went to high school with Tanner). But he makes clear that the contribution an organization he belonged to gave to the presumptive Democratic candidate in the race, Roy Herron, was not a personal contribution to Herron.
Kirkland concludes: "Mr. Fincher is a nice young man, but this kind of D.C.-style false attack campaign shows just how out of control his campaign is and how D.C. insiders are controlling everything he does. Tennesseans are fed up with these kinds of deceitful tactics from his campaign."
And with that, he closes the woodshed door.