The race for Sacramento's open State Senate seat between two assembly members is getting heated as the election nears. Assembly member Roger Dickinson held a news conference to refute a television ad and mailers by supporters of his opponent, Dr. Richard Pan, also an assembly member.
"This for me goes over the line," said Dickinson.
He is referring to the assertion in the ad that he did nothing about the inaction by Child Protective Services that may have cost the lives of several abused children while he was Chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. It says a Grand Jury found the inaction unacceptable.
"What's worse about lying about my record is the exploitation of children and families who have already suffered enough," said Dickinson.
Standing in front of an agency he helped to create to battle child abuse, Dickinson said the board brought in a consultant and got rid of several CPS officials in an effort to respond to child deaths. He also said he authored laws that make it easier to identify abused children.
"Ventures that have saved many of our children and have benefited our community," said Darrell Roberts, one of half a dozen community leaders and child advocates who appeared with Dickinson.
They praised his leadership in helping reduce child abuse during his time on the board. That didn't prevent Pan supporter Steve Maviglio from standing by the ads claims.
"This happened on his watch and only after outrage did something happen," said Maviglio, a Democratic strategist who helped develop the ads.
The ads were paid for by political action committees for unions and industry groups and not by any committee controlled by Pan. Pan's campaign says it did not know the ads would be running nor knew of their content.
But Pan did issue a statement saying it was he who is the victim of false attack ads by Dickinson. Those ads claim Pan was in the pocket of big business when it comes to oil drilling and opposition to overtime pay for farm workers. And they imply that he was a cheat by taking expense money for living in a residence that was not in his district.
"My campaign has been and will remain 100% positive and focused on the issues Sacramento families care about: health care, public safety and good schools," said Pan in his statement.
The new primary election rules allow the top two vote-getters to compete in the general election, in this case two democrats. The intensity was bound to escalate in a race where both sides have traditional democratic supporters.
"It gets ugly in the end, but the truth is the truth." said Pan strategist Maviglio.
It seems that could apply to both sides.