FORT MYERS, Fla. - Early voting starts Saturday in a Republican primary to fill Trey Radel's seat in Congress.
So far, the candidates have held little back in their attack ads. Candidates have often said, "politics is a contact sport." That's most definitely the case in this District 19 race. You can't turn on a TV without seeing one of those negative ads. Political expert, Dr. Peter Bergerson tells WINK News all the negativity may actually hurt voter turnout.
We asked voters what comes to mind when they think about the District 19 Congressional race. "It's kind of a circus in a way," Ava Roeder said.
In the crucial decision of who will represent Southwest Florida in Washington D.C., voters say the real issues have gotten a little muddy.
"They're just tearing each other up over so much," Skip Mufalli said. "Go back to what you're going to do. I am sick of you telling me about the other guy."
"The issues are buried," Roeder said. "Everybody is like, me me me. Look what I did, look what they did."
Four Republicans will face off in the April 22nd primary. When you look at the issues like healthcare, jobs and the deficit, they're all pretty similar. Now, political analyst Dr. Peter Dergerson says it's become a race between personalities and attack ads.
"The negativity is the first issue in the campaign, the second issue in the campaign, and the third issue in the campaign," Bergerson said. "The negativity of the campaign has really taken on historic proportions here in Southwest Florida."
So much that this week, the candidates agreed to play nice from now on. However, the ads largely haven't stopped.
Bergerson believe that two things fueling all the negativity are the way Radel suddenly left office and the millions of dollars invested in the campaigns. In the end, it could hurt more than just those running.
"Negative ads can suppress voter turnout," Bergerson said.
Early voting starts Saturday and runs through next Saturday, April 19th. Primary election day is Tuesday, April 22nd.
For information on early voting times and locations in Lee County, visit http://www.leeelections.com/userfiles/EV%20Info_USH19_Special%20042214_Eng%284%29.pdf.