Negative political ads are a common sight every election season, but one from candidate Dan Maffei has both Democrats and Republicans talking in the new 24th Congressional District. Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle is calling it the most despicable ad she's seen. Her challenger, Dan Maffei, says what's more disturbing is the political action that prompted it. Our Sarah Blazonis reports.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- This isn't the first time Republican Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle has run for office. It's also not the first time she's faced off against Democrat Dan Maffei. But she says this time, he's crossed a line when it comes to negative advertising.
A narrator says during the ad, "Buerkle co-sponsored a bill with Congressman Todd Akin that would redefine the term rape to mean only 'forcible rape.'”
"What he did with this ad is wrong, it's desperate, it's pathetic and it insults every woman who's ever been a victim of domestic violence," said Congresswoman Buerkle.
The ad refers to a bill regarding taxpayer funding of abortions. The original bill included the term "forcible rape" -- an old definition that doesn't classify women who were drugged or victims of statutory rape to be rape victims. That language has since been changed, but Maffei says regardless of the final version of the bill, it's a measure Buerkle never have signed her name to.
"The bill, as she co-sponsored it and when she spoke in favor of it, had this language in it that would have parsed rape victims into different categories, and I think that's deplorable," said Maffei.
Maffei said he decided to speak out on the move after rape advocates and victims approached him to share their concerns. The back and forth between Buerkle and Maffei is nothing new in politics and not exclusive to their race.
"Ads have always played a role in campaigns and voters' choices. Voters see far more ads than they ever see news about a candidate," said Charlotte Grimes, the Knight Chair in Political Reporting for Syracuse University's Newhouse School.
Grimes says there's no official organization charged with monitoring the content of such ads, and it's mostly up to voters to find out what the facts are for themselves.
"People should take ads with not just a grain of salt, but a whole truckload of salt, and try at least to get their information from multiple sources," Grimes said.
Grimes recommends www.politifact.com and www.factcheck.org for voters trying to wade their way through the many contradictions of election season.
For more information on local races, you can also visit democracywise.syr.edu.