ALBANY,Ga. -- Ken Hodges and Rob Teilhet, vying Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for Georgia attorney general, probably won't be exchanging Christmas cards this year.
Teilhet, a state representative from Smyrna, accuses Hodges of conducting an increasingly "aggressive" campaign, while Hodges, a former Dougherty County district attorney, charges Teilhet is desperate and trying to distract voters.
But why has this race suddenly turned nasty?
"Desperation," Hodges replied. "My campaign has stuck to the issues. My opponent has resorted to misleading ads in a desperate attempt to distract voters."
At issue was Teilhet's latest television ad in which Emily Walker blasts Hodges for not securing an indictment against the deputy who shot and killed her unarmed son, Kenneth, in Columbus.
Hodges was chosen as special prosecutor to present the case to a Muscogee County grand jury in 2004. The panel chose not indict Muscogee County sheriff's deputy David Glisson, prompting tension in Columbus because Walker was black and the deputy is white.
In the ad, Walker said that "the officer got off because the prosecutor, Ken Hodges, forgot to swear him in, tried to hide the video and then refused to reopen the case. I could never get an answer why."
Hodges called for Teilhet to pull the ad, which he refused to do.
"This has been a very competitive race and Ken has been running a very aggressive, very negative campaign," Teilhet said. "This is not about personalities or character, it's about how he (Hodges) conducted his job as a prosecutor. This is about job performance.
"So the ad is appropriate because the discussion of his record as a prosecutor is in order."
Hodges said Teilhet is trying to distract voters from the fact that Teilhet has never been a prosecutor and contends Teilhet is exploiting a mother's grief for political gain.
"Greg Edwards (the current Doughtery County district attorney) went on television in Atlanta and refuted that ad point by point," Hodges said. "This is nothing more than shameful exploitation of a mother's loss of a son. My opponent is desperate."
Hodges says the only real issue is which candidate is better suited for the job.
"This race all boils down to who has the experience to do the job and who does not," Hodges said. "I have prosecuted cases in hundreds of courtrooms. He has not. I supervised 50 employees as Dougherty County District Attorney. He has not."
Teilhet says he is confident heading into Tuesday's primary.
"Yes, we feel very confident," he said. "We are getting strong support from all across the state. I think we need an attorney general who will not just be the state's lawyer, but also the people's lawyer."
Hodges is also feeling good about Tuesday.
"If you look at our support, the money is coming from diverse occupations and locations across Georgia," Hodges said. "The people need an attorney general who won't lie to them. That's what's important.
"Plus, the people of Southwest Georgia need their voices heard."