Attack Ad, Secret Recording Fueling Fire Before Primary Election

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Three Democrats are battling for the Third District nomination for their party, but two of them are in an altercation on their own over the definition of an attack ad.

Just days before the Democratic primary election, Jim Mowrer launched an ad Wednesday against Mike Sherzan. Sherzan said Mowrer broke his word that he wasn’t going to go negative. In response, Sherzan released a recorded phone conversation the two candidates had on May 11.

“I’m not going to be the first one to go negative in this race. I think it’s a bad idea to have Democrats attacking other Democrats,” Mowrer is heard saying. “I think we need to keep our attacks trained on the Republicans.”

Sherzan says the ad demonstrates more about Mowrer's character than it does about facts.

“After he several times on the call committed that he wasn’t going to go negative, I was surprised to see the ad yesterday, and I was disappointed in him breaking his word to me,” Sherzan told Channel 13.

Meanwhile, Mowrer doesn't see a conflict or a contradiction between his pledge to Sherzan and his ad.

“I absolutely stand by what I said. We need to run a positive campaign, based on the issues. That’s what I’m doing. I think it’s bizarre that he thinks that this is a negative ad,” Mowrer said. “This ad is focused on the issues. It’s focused on where we have a different view on a particular issue.”

So what exactly is a negative ad? And is there a difference between pointing out differences on policy and getting personal?

“I refer to Donald Trump. ‘He’s a loser, she’s a loser.’ Those kinds of things. Yeah, there is a difference,” said Art Sanders, a politics professor at Drake University.

As for the substance of the ad and the allegation that Sherzan went to Washington to weaken Wall Street reform laws, Sherzan calls that a complete falsehood, saying he has never worked against Wall Street reform.

“What I was doing in Washington was traveling with community bankers in the state. I’m proud of the community banking system in the state of Iowa. There are some good people in community banking. That trip was about that. I was a guest and I attended a meeting where they attended where they wanted to understand the regulation,” Sherzan said. “I did not espouse anything against Dodd-Frank or any consumer oriented-protections.”

As for that recorded phone conversation from last month, Sherzan said when he gets a phone call from an opponent in a campaign, he's going to record it.

Ultimately, the viewers and voters will have the final word.

Click here to view the documentation provided by Mowrer's campaign to support the ad. Click here to listen to the recording of Mowrer and Sherzan's conversation.

Still haven't decided on a candidate? In the Iowa Forums, Channel 13's Political Director Dave Price sat down with Desmund Adams, Jim Mowrer and Mike Sherzan, all of who are vying for the Third District Democratic nomination. Watch their interviews in the stories below:

Iowa Forum: Jim Mowrer Talks Affordable Health Care and Minimum Wage

Iowa Forum: Mike Sherzan Discusses Minimum Wage, Equal Pay and Trade

Iowa Forum: Desmund Adams Talks Equal Pay, Black Lives Matter