East Ridge News Online received a press release from the Jonathan Mason campaign Thursday morning touting an endorsement in his State House campaign from a right to life group.
In the press release was a statement that his opponent in the Republican Primary for District 30, East Ridge City Councilwoman Esther Helton, did not meet the requirements to receive an endorsement by the pro-life group Tennessee Right to Life.
The Helton campaign responded with a press release of its own, saying that Helton was never contacted by officials of TRL. Helton also said she was “disgusted” by Mason’s “smears” and attempts to intimidate her.
Mason released another statement late Thursday evening emphasizing that TRL officials told his campaign that Helton did not meet the criteria for the organization’s endorsement and authorized that phrasing in Mason’s original press release.
“Tennessee Right to Life’s endorsement of me, like Esther Helton’s vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, is public record,” Mason wrote in his Thursday evening statement. “Esther Helton admitted to voting for Barack Obama in the Republican Women’s forum earlier this year. Esther’s handlers keep complaining that we’re making the public aware of her record.
“She would have an opportunity to correct it at the debate Monday night moderated by WRCB Channel 3, but Esther has already withdrawn, refusing to answer District 30 voter’s questions,” Mason continued. “Why won’t Esther Helton debate in front of the voters of District 30?
“Tennessee Right to Life told our campaign Helton did not meet the criteria of the organization and authorized the phrasing in our campaign’s press release.”
Mason’s release states that in instances where multiple candidates running within the same district met their pro-life criteria, Tennessee Right to Life notated that in their endorsement listings.
Helton’s campaign released a statement Friday afternoon saying that she has a conflict on the day of the scheduled forum. Her schedule had been set weeks in advance. Helton will be attending a meeting involving property owners at their invitation. The East Ridge Housing Commission is scheduled to meet on Monday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
In regard to the Tennessee Right to Life endorsement, the Helton campaign said that she never received any survey from the group, and there was no follow up from the group regarding contacting her. The Helton campaign said she has subsequently submitted her survey electronically to reveal her consistent stand for the life of the innocent and unborn.
“To have your Christian faith attacked by seeing in print statement that are completely untrue is a line that has been breached,” Helton said in the Friday press release. “Mr. Mason’s habit of attacking people using their faith must stop. Politics aside, my faith in Jesus Christ has been a source of tremendous strength in some difficult days and having a political hack attack me to score some type of points is too far.”
East Ridge News Online reached out to Joda Thongnopnua who is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary. He said Friday that candidates running for the State House should focus on issues.
“Although I’m the youngest candidate in the race, it seems like I’m the only adult in the room,” said the 25-year-old Thongnopnua. “This campaign ought to be about finding solutions to improve the lives of residents of District 30 not petty mudslinging.
“The voters in our district deserve better.”
Early voting begins July 13; Election Day is Thursday, August 2.