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Campaign heats ups as Carriger, Hill move toward Election Day

Accusations are starting to fall hot and heavy in the race for the 7th District’s Tennessee House of Representatives seat as candidates Phil Carriger and Matthew Hill make a run for the finish line.
For Carriger, a Johnson City businessman who officially announced his candidacy in March, the 2014 campaign has involved what he calls dirt and dishonesty, with negative ads, push polls and a website established in Carriger’s name that draws Google searches to a list of Carriger’s alleged failings regarding annexation.
“He’s taking what I see as half truths to create these ads,” Carriger said. “It’s hard not to lash out.”
Carriger said he spotted the website bearing his name and featuring a Matthew Hill ad during an internet search. “As far as I know, I have no recourse,” he said of the site. “I think it’s the sign of a desperate person to take a person’s name and use it.
“I’m getting a lot of support from folks,” Carriger added. “I’m trying to get my message out there. We’ve got mailers. I’m trying to take the high road while trying to take the truth to the public.”
For Hill, now a seasoned campaigner for the 7th District with five elections under his belt, the 2014 campaign is instead one that involves a great deal of hard work and a fight for his constituents that at times call for some “aggressive” ads.
“Negative can have the connotation that it is not true,” Hill said. “I term (my campaign) as an aggressive campaign. People want someone who is willing to stand up and fight for them. I do not lie. I do not make up stories. I do not fabricate things.”
As for the Carriger web page, Hill claims responsibility without hesitation. Earlier in the campaign, he said, staff discovered that the domain was still available.
“We did talk about it,” Hill said. “The other side had the opportunity to obtain it and purchase it. They didn’t.
He sees the site, he said, as “a device to get the facts out.”
The facts currently seem to center about issues ranging from annexation and education to job creation and Second Amendment rights.
According to the latest election contribution and expenditure reports, Carriger currently has about $41,522.88 remaining in his campaign coffers, with Hill records showing $28,073.32.
A little more than two weeks remains until Election Day, Aug. 7. Early voting began July 18.
Carriger said the issue not being discussed as much as it should be is jobs.
“I want to talk about jobs,” he said. “I want good paying jobs for this area.”
To build that job market requires connections, relationships and cooperation, Carriger said.
“Mr. Hill has no cooperation with the people of Nashville,” he said. It takes working with the state, selling the idea of Washington County, building trust and always being honest and aboveboard, Carriger added. “It’s about relationships. That’s how you do it.”
Carriger also stressed that he strongly supports Second Amendment rights and believes property owners should have final say in annexation issues.
“I think we’ve got a very good chance in this election,” Carriger said. “What I’m hearing is people are upset about the negative ads. They think it’s an insult to their intelligence.
“I think that people see the need for a change. I think they see a need for someone who has a plan.”
Hill, too, is confident on the elections outcome.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work in. We’ve had a lot of help, and I’m very thankful,” Hill said. “I really believe it’s all about the grass roots.”
Grass roots campaigning means a lot of door-to-door visits, and by the end of last week, he said he had knocked on more than 3,500 doors in the county.
“We’ve been everywhere,” Hill said. “All over Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County.”
For the most part, responses have been positive. “I’m a big believer in asking for the vote,” Hill said. “Not everybody has said yes. Some are supportive and some are not supportive.”
The key issues, Hill believes, are annexation, school budgets and the school system, Second Amendment rights and state rights.
“I feel good about my conservative record,” he said. And he wants to be able to continue to serve the residents of Washington County.
“Public service is a noble thing,” Hill said. “I take that service seriously. My number one goal is to serve Washington County to the best of my ability. I’m here to stand up for them and their families.”