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Skandalakis Negative Ads Outrageous

October 14, 1998

ATLANTA (AP) _ Atlanta’s mayor is called an ``incompetent boob.″ A cuss word is bleeped out. A wink-wink, nudge-nudge implication that a certain political candidate still uses cocaine.

It’s not Jerry Springer or ``South Park.″ These things all are included in 60-second campaign advertisements for Mitch Skandalakis, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

The ads are outrageous even for Skandalakis, who has honed a sharp-tongued, take-no-prisoners brand of politics as chairman of the Fulton County Commission. He has twice been sued for slander, reaching out-of-court settlements both times.

Democratic nominee Mark Taylor said the drug allegation is slanderous and likened Skandalakis to former Alabama Gov. George Wallace and racist politicians for his remarks about Mayor Bill Campbell, who is black.

One ad, airing everywhere in Georgia but Atlanta, makes overt references to Taylor’s admission that he used cocaine as a young man, without ever mentioning the drug.

The ad opens with a man in a robe and slippers shuffling down a hallway, apparently in a hospital.

``Taylor, of course, has admitted he had problems years ago,″ the announcer says. ``And we all wish those problems had been cured.″

The hospital ad never mentions drugs or cocaine, though the announcer says: ``Mark Taylor has some more problems to clear up before he runs for any office.″

The ad also says Taylor supported changing the state flag as a member of the Georgia Senate and says he ``fought to preserve discriminatory racial quotas.″ The charge is made over video of Taylor with Campbell. Production notes that accompany a written copy of the script refer to him as ``black Mayor Campbell.″

``George Wallace we thought was dead. But he lives in Georgia through Mitch Skandalakis,″ Taylor said.

Skandalakis savagely bashes Campbell in the second ad, airing statewide. While a fast-paced montage shows Skandalakis campaigning on a farm, at a football game and by a roadside fruit stand, viewers hear him off camera as he promises to ``kick Atlanta’s (bleep) and bring it in line before the city of Atlanta kills the state.″

He continues, ``Bill Campbell. Incompetent boob. He should be fired, run out of town.″

Campbell spokesman Nick Gold said, ``The mayor’s not going to respond to this political nonsense.″

Asked about the ad’s tone, Skandalakis spokesman Edward Leidelmeijer said: ``I’ve heard stronger language on regular TV in prime time, trust me. I think it’s fine.″

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