Negative ads take center stage

HOUSTON This is a campaign that really has seemed to gain momentum in the last couple of weeks, with each of the candidates ratcheting up their efforts, their advertising and their rhetoric.

"Desperate candidates do desperate things," said mayoral candidate Annise Parker.

With that, the gloves are off. On Thursday Parker refuted a Peter Brown mailer that attacks her credibility.

She said, "He is clearly, clearly doing this in complete contempt for the truth."

Parker also has a mailer that attacks Brown for being absent and stretching the truth.

Brown said, "I did notice that for a couple of weeks my opponents have gone negative and I think that's now ratcheted up."

For his part, Brown has a TV ad, too, where he criticizes the job performance of candidate Gene Locke. Locke responded, "I think it's an indication that our campaign is building steam because people are now attacking us and that's a good thing."

Locke, in turn, has a radio ad lashing out at Brown.

The ad says: "Peter Brown is spending millions of dollars in this mayor's race because he can't match Gene's long time record of service. But our community is not for sale."

Last weekend both Locke and Brown backers held competing news conferences to refute what the other was saying about him.

All of the candidates say they are running a positive campaign, while each is also attacking the other and defending themselves from claims they call misleading our outright lies.

Even candidate Roy Morales says he's gotten pulled in to the mess. His campaign offices were vandalized three times.

"We're supposed to be setting an example as the number one leader in our city, and we need to act that way," Morales said.

Regardless, with four candidates in the race an outright win Tuesday is unlikely. That means half of the four main contenders will have to stop the negative campaigning because their effort will be over.

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