ALBANY, Ga. -- Holding up a flip-flop and standing in front of the Dougherty County Tax office Friday, Republican U.S. Congressional Candidate Lee Ferrell attacked his primary opponent's comments as deceptive, saying that Mike Keown may say he's a conservative but that his voting record in the state house paints him more as a liberal.
Ferrell and Keown are each trying to earn a trip to November's general election to challenge longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop.
Friday, Ferrell went on the attack, saying that Keown's votes as a state representative for fee hikes, a new hospital tax and the repeal of a Homestead Exemption Grant, cast doubt on Keown's assertions that he's a true conservative.
"It's really just a smoke and mirror game," Ferrell said. "His comments at his events where he talks about standing by his conservative record is...just deceptive."
Handing out a press release and a copy of an e-mail reportedly from Keown done as a response to Ferrell's statements, Ferrell said that Keown's response is evidence that he's a flip-flopper with a liberal voting record.
The e-mail reportedly from Keown attempts to explain the votes Ferrell criticizes as fiscal decisions made when "Georgia has been in the worst recession since the great depression."
In the e-mail, Keown reportedly justifies increasing fees for government services like copies of birth certificates and civil filings by saying that most of the fees hadn't been increased in decades, but does say that he had his vote changed from "yes" to "no" after the initial vote was cast.
"I can justify my votes," the e-mail states. "Not everyone is going to agree with me. I will not vote for a tax increase, also support the Fair Tax, plus I am the only candidate I (sic) the race who can beat Sanford Bishop. Lee couldn't do it two years ago and he can't do it now."
The e-mail doesn't address Keown's vote regarding the creation of a 1.65 percent tax on the net revenues of hospitals, which was expected to generate $163 million dollars in revenue for the state.
Keown said Friday that he had heard about Ferrell's press conference but didn't want to go on the record with any comments.
When asked about what he would've done in Keown's position, Ferrell said that he wasn't a state representative, but said that he is a big proponent of smaller government and he would've revisited cutting more government programs.
The Republican primary will be held July 20, but early voting begins in Dougherty County Monday.