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Attack Ads Create Tension In The Race For District Attorney

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By Brianna Case.
The election is on Tuesday and the heat is rising between some candidates.

The heat between Steve Cornwell and District Attorney Gerald Mollen, the two candidates running for District Attorney, got a bit hotter when Cornwell put out an ad accusing Mollen of failing to prosecute a case of sexual assault against Tracy Ayers and that the district attorney office only had 83 guilty verdicts in the past five years.

Mollen's campaign says these statement are false and requested for the ad to be removed.

"Anytime you give this information to the public I think that it's something you should be called out on the carpet on and that's exactly what we are trying to do," said Tom Jackson, Partner at Jackson Bergman in Binghamton.

Mollen's campaign says Cornwell failed to pay his taxes and has only handled one felony criminal trial as a prosecutor.

Cornwell came back with a statement saying my taxes are paid, the NYS court statistics are correct, and the residents of Broome County deserve an election about issues, not political rhetoric."

He also sent a list of multiple criminal cases he has covered and a formal letter from his accountant stating that his taxes paid.

Both sides are firing shots with tools like attack ads and statements. But is this strategy benefiting their campaign and how are the voters reacting to them?

The Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, Blair Horner, provided some insight in the interview with Fox 40's Brianna Case below.

Case: "Do you think it's good throwing all this stuff out there or do you think it's going to hinder them in the long run?"

Horner: "From the candidate's perspective, it's win or lose. That's where their job is to win, and increasingly it's win at all costs. The advertising in modern times seems to be about energizing your base more than anything else. When you do that you end up alienating a lot of the moderate voters or the unaffiliated voters, and what we see is a huge decline in the percentage of New Yorkers who vote over time. To some extent, it's the toxic nature of the advertising of the campaigns themselves."

Case: "Do you think that this changes with age? Do you think some younger viewers are paying closer attention to the ads than older viewers, or do you think its different?"

Horner: "I think the younger voters are getting increasingly turned off to politics in general, and to some extent the advertising does that. As the stakes get higher, the campaigns become more ferocious. The more ferocious they are, the often more toxic, and they drive away the substantial portion of the population. So few people vote nowadays, what you want to do is pull more people to the poles. The advertisers design to drive voters to the poles, primarily those who are already ideologically in sync with the candidate. In New York's election last year for example, only thirty percent of New Yorkers bothered to vote; that means seventy percent didn't, and that's the kind of thing we're seeing increase in elections across New York, and the country."