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Columbia Missourian

Anti-tax group begins running TV ads against Luetkemeyer

By SAM HANANEL/The Associated Press
July 18, 2008 | 4:14 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON — A prominent anti-tax group is spending $100,000 to run a negative TV ad against Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer in the 9th Congressional District primary.

The Washington-based Club for Growth, which has endorsed Republican rival Bob Onder, a state representative, says it paid for the 30-second spot to attack Luetkemeyer as a supporter of higher taxes and debt spending and for his opposition to cutting the gas tax.

Club for Growth spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said the ad was starting to run on Friday and run for 10 days on broadcast TV stations in the Columbia market and districtwide cable leading up to the Aug. 5 primary.

Luetkemeyer spokesman Paul Sloca blasted the ad as ”a politically motivated distortion of Blaine Luetkemeyer’s record by Bob Onder, who hoodwinked the Club for Growth about Blaine’s credentials as the only true fiscal conservative in this race.”

Five Republicans and four Democrats are running to replace Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who is seeking the governor’s office. But the most visible sparring in recent days has been between Onder, a wealthy physician from Lake St. Louis, and Luetkemeyer, a former state House member and state tourism director from St. Elizabeth.

Onder and Luetkemeyer are two of the best-financed candidates in the crowded GOP primary. Onder has already poured $250,000 of his own money into the race and may toss in even more.

On Wednesday, Luetkemeyer accused Onder’s campaign of distorting Luetkemeyer’s record with ”the unethical practice of push polling.” Luetkemeyer claims Onder paid a research firm to call voters in the district and ask questions that misstate Luetkemeyer’s positions on amnesty for illegal immigrants and penalties for abuse of the elderly.

In response to the Club for Growth claims, Sloca said Luetkemeyer supported giving local communities the right to vote on tax increases rather than have the state legislature impose them.

”That is not a tax increase as Onder claims,” Sloca said.

The Club for Growth has tried in other races around the country to defeat Republicans that it deems insufficiently conservative on tax and economic issues. The free-market advocacy group also has not been shy about supporting conservative challengers to incumbent Republicans in congressional primaries.

Other GOP candidates in the 9th District race include state Rep. Danie Moore, of Fulton; former MU football star Brock Olivo, of Hermann; and Dan Bishir, of St. Peters.