Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes and John Blust on the Walker Berger Race

"Barnes said ads run by the Keep Conservatives United super PAC — a political action committee that has spent nearly $200,000 since January on ads supporting Berger Jr. and attacking his opponents — were particularly vicious and in some cases misleading.

“The truth is the truth,” Barnes said. “But the way those ads did it with innuendo, inferring things and just being dishonest — when you change what someone was trying to say, when you cherry-pick their words, that’s not the kind of campaigning I like or have ever wanted to be involved in.”

State Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), who endorsed Walker, said this primary season may have created deep divisions within the party that won’t be easily healed.

...I believe that without that super PAC and all the negativity Berger would have won 40 percent on May 6 and there would not be all this ill will,” he said. “It was a terrible idea to have the super PAC involved.”

...The super PAC also shares some big-dollar donors with the Berger campaign.

Berger’s father, Phil Berger Sr., has used his position and influence as president pro tem of the N.C. Senate to steer contributions to the super PAC, Walker said. Berger Sr. is the immediate past president of the Republican State Leadership Committee and still serves on its executive committee. The committee, which describes itself as existing “to elect down-ballot, state-level Republican officeholders,” never had involved itself in federal races but this year gave $75,000 to Keep Conservatives United.

“That money was supposed to go toward helping Republicans defeat Democrats,” Blust said. “For them to instead give it to this super PAC in a Republican congressional primary, which is only working to elect Berger Jr. — I think it’s just insulting to my intelligence and the intelligence of the voters to ask us to believe this isn’t just the Berger family’s personal PAC.”

The Berger campaign ...has defended the content of the PAC’s ads and fought criticism of its donors.

During the runoff, the PAC and Berger’s campaign both characterized Walker as being in favor of complete legal amnesty for undocumented immigrants, which Walker said is a distortion of his position.

...Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, a high-profile crusader against illegal immigration, backs Walker and calls those charges “ridiculous.”

...the Berger campaign took to Twitter to call Walker a “deranged, unhinged, pathological liar.”

Berger said that during the campaign he has weathered charges from the Walker campaign that he’s riding his powerful father’s coattails, that financial support for his campaign has been illegal or improper, even a whisper campaign of lies about his personal life.

...Walker said ... “What we’ve had in the last few months is a career politician standing behind a super PAC and running a very negative campaign, not against another career politician but against someone who has been a minister in this community,” Walker said. “I’m someone who, through my work, has made real ties with people in some of the darkest times in their lives...”

In Friday’s debate, both Berger and Walker said they would support whichever Republican candidate faces Democrat Laura Fjeld on Nov. 4."


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