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Two of Jean Stothert's mayoral rivals lambasted her Saturday for a new television advertisement that they call “sleazy” and “absurd.”
In the ad, Stothert tries to link Dan Welch and Dave Nabity — fellow Republicans — to a controversial T-shirt that portrayed Stothert as a stripper and to a vulgar tweet about her.
However, no one has suggested that Welch or Nabity had anything to do with either the T-shirt or the tweet.
“Jean Stothert is taking a low road in this campaign and voters will reject her sleazy campaign tactics,” said Chris Peterson, Welch campaign manager.
“It's pretty nasty,” said Darold Bauer, Nabity campaign manager.
The Stothert campaign stood by the ad, saying it doesn't specifically connect either candidate to the T-shirt or the tweet. But Nabity and Welch have “joined” in those attacks by going on the offensive against Stothert.
“The point of the ad is that Dan Welch and Dave Nabity have attacked — and joined in — with the interests that are attacking her,” said Ryan Horn, Stothert campaign manager.
Voters will go to the polls April 2 and narrow the five-candidate field for Omaha mayor. Mayor Jim Suttle, a Democrat, is expected by most of his rivals to finish in the top two.
The other four candidates are dueling for the second ticket out of the primary.
In the disputed Stothert ad, a narrator accuses both Nabity and Welch of joining “liberals and labor unions” in attacking Stothert.
The narrator goes on to say: “National experts called many of the attacks 'disgusting.' ''
The ad is clearly a reference to the T-shirt and tweet attacks on Stothert and to a national expert who was quoted in The World-Herald as calling those attacks “disgusting.”
The source of both the T-shirt and anonymous tweet are not known.
Last week, a photo was publicized of a smiling City Councilman Chris Jerram holding the T-shirt at McFly's Tavern on St. Patrick's Day. McFly's is a hangout for Omaha firefighters.
Jerram has said he does not know who made the shirt or who gave him the shirt. He has acknowledged a firefighter took the picture.
Stothert and the firefighters' union have been at odds over the past four years. Stothert has been one of the most vocal critics of the city's labor contract with firefighters.
Her campaign said the ad simply suggests that both Nabity and Welch have joined forces with the people behind the T-shirt and the tweet. Nabity and Welch have criticized Stothert for her role in negotiating the latest firefighters' contract.
Both accused Stothert of costing the city millions by negotiating a deal that was too generous. Stothert says she saved the city millions over the long run by requiring firefighters to pay more for their pensions and health insurance.
“These politicians are joining with all of the others who are attacking her,” said Horn, her campaign manager.
Bauer, Nabity's campaign manager, called the Stothert argument “illogical.”
“We haven't joined in with the Twitter and the T-shirt. All they're trying to do is get more sympathy,” Bauer said.
“Clearly, Jean Stothert believes that Dan Welch has momentum, and this is an attempt to blunt that momentum,” said Peterson.
The Welch campaign wrote a letter to Omaha television stations, urging them to pull the ad.
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