SALT LAKE CITY — It's one of those rules of politics: an intra-party fight is often most personal because the candidates agree on most issues of substance.
That rule was proven out in the Third Congressional District Debate hosted by KSL radio on Monday morning, as candidates Tanner Ainge, John Curtis and Chris Herrod sparred over who was running the dirtiest campaign and who was being least authentic about their personal record.
Ainge, a businessman, and Herrod, a former State Representative, have been on the offensive in the campaign trying to make up the ground with Curtis, who has the lead in recent polls.
"There are differences in the record and those things are OK to talk about," said Herrod in response to claims he was running a negative campaign.
Ainge also spoke on ads targeting Curtis.
"John Curtis has a very different record in terms of how he portrayed it, and he tells people to look at his record. We're helping them look at his record," said Ainge.
Curtis fought back in the debate, asking the other candidates to denounce what he called "untrue" mailers and commercials run by out-of-state organizations supporting his opponents.
"This would be a good time for my opponents to stand up and say 'It's wrong, we denounce it, we agree they're false and untrue.' Let's hear it guys. How do you feel?" Curtis asked.
Out of state super PACs have weighed in on the side of Herrod. One of them, National Horizon PAC, has produced and run radio ads critical of Curtis' record on taxes and going after him as a "smooth" and "slick" politician.
Also, the national Club for Growth has created a website critical of Curtis and favoring Herrod.
In the debate itself, Ainge was more forceful on the attack, saying Curtis had supported tax and utility fee increases as mayor of Provo.
Curtis said the jabs were misplaced, that taxes are lower in Provo than they were when he entered office and utilities are less expensive than other cities in Utah County.
The Republican primary takes place on Tuesday, August 15th, though much of the voting will happen by mail well before then.