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It's no big surprise we dislike elections

Every election year I wonder why we Americans are so cynical and disillusioned with politics.

Then the election draws near, campaign commercials come on television, and it all comes back to me.

Guess what? It's election time. Politicians are bashing each other. The political air war has begun, and for that matter, so has the mailbox war.

With the election a week from Tuesday, here is a look at how some Pinellas candidates are slamming each other in commercials and mailings:

Democratic state Senate candidate Dana Maley has gone on the air with a commercial skewering her opponent, Sen. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg. Maley claims Crist "broke his word and voted for 38 tax and fee increases totalling $96-million."

Crist acknowledged that he has voted for some fee increases, but sharply denied voting for tax increases. And he denounced as a lie that he was ever rated as having "the worst record in Florida business." Maley staffers say the business rating was a compilation of two groups' evaluations of the Legislature.

Crist has shot back at "mudslinging Maley" by running a television commercial that quotes a newspaper editorial calling her "reckless, vindictive and self-serving."

Crist also has run television commercials on other subjects, such as his support of a law to force criminals to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

Republican state Senate candidate Jack Latvala, meanwhile, is waiting. He has started commercials of his own, but is afraid he'll soon see "a super-negative television spot on something to do with my business or personal life."

Chuck Lehr, the Democratic candidate, plans to start television commercials Monday. His staff refused to discuss them before they air.

State Rep. Lars Hafner, D-St. Petersburg, has started running a cable television commercial that talks about his campaign theme, "Hard Work, Real Results."

His Republican challenger, Ernest "Curt" Curtsinger, is airing a radio ad in which he is endorsed by U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla.

State Rep. Mary Brennan, D-Pinellas Park, is upset about mailings from her Republican challenger, Carl Neuman, that she says distort and misrepresent her record.

So she has shot back with mailings that compare Neuman to Pinocchio.

She also said she intends to file a formal complaint on his mailings with Pinellas County's Fair Campaign Practices Committee, a bipartisan group that seeks to eliminate campaign mudslinging.

From the looks of things, it looks like the committee won't have to disband anytime soon.

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