Regardless of how they vote on Election Day, Democrats in Worthington's city government have Mike Duffey's back.
When Duffey, a Worthington City Council member running as a Republican for state representative in Ohio's 21st district, saw ads attacking him, a bipartisan group of residents from his hometown came to his support.
"Typically, these ads wouldn't appear until later in the election cycle, but this year they are 'going negative early' and choosing absurd things to attack me on, like, for instance, where I went to college," said Duffey, a graduate of the University of Michigan, in an e-mail.
Scott Sneddon, the campaign manager for the campaign of Democrat David Robinson, Duffey's opponent for the House seat, said the ads in question were paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party and the Campaign for a Moderate Majority. Neither was approved or endorsed by Robinson, Sneddon said.
He said Robinson's campaign has remained positive and he has talked with voters about his "positive message for how to get Ohio on the right track."
Duffey said given the short time before the election and the number of inaccurate attacks against him, there's little hope of "clearing the air." With nearly half of all voters expected to vote early with an absentee ballot, that exacerbates the problem.
Much of the material for the attacks, Duffey said, was prompted by an out-of-state researcher who requested 1,100 pages of minutes from his City Council tenure.
City Council members came to Duffey's rescue during their Oct. 4 meeting. Campaign ads claim Duffey voted to raise his salary in 2007, but the other six council members at the time and one future member -- whom Duffey said are composed of five Democrats and two Republicans -- signed a letter in June stating that was not true.
Council President Lou Goorey said it's been a "long time" since council had a raise, and under the city's charter, any changes cannot apply to current members. Duffey did vote to increase council's pay of $50 per meeting, which he said was the lowest salary in Central Ohio, to $75 in an effort to attract more qualified candidates. Ultimately, the raise was voted down 5-2.
Last Wednesday, Oct. 6, Duffey said if a raise had been approved, he would have refused it, but that statement is absent from council minutes.
A community group called Worthington Citizens for Truth has formed in response to the negative ads against Duffey. The group gathered Oct. 2.
George Campbell, president of the Colonial Hills Civic Association and a founder of the group, said he is a lifelong Democrat, but it's important for voters to know the truth, even if they do not agree with someone politically.
During council's meeting last week, Campbell said one issue Duffey's opposition had wrong about him was the claim that he voted to increase income taxes in 2009.
"Council members allow voters to make the choice," said Campbell, who also has become a target of criticism, he said.
An online video released by the Ohio Education Association makes fun of Campbell for getting the date of an Ohio State football game wrong when talking about the Oct. 2 meeting on its Web site,worthingtoncitizensfortruth.org.
In addition, Robinson's campaign said Campbell's website is inaccurate in regards to Robinson's residency and that he received $500,000 from the Democratic Party to run TV ads.
"This website, created by George Campbell of Worthington, is exactly the type of negative hype machine that he claims to be fighting against," Sneddon said.