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Politically genteel Plano is witnessing a testier brand of politics this year.
The GOP campaign to represent West Plano in the Texas House of Representatives is emerging as one of the city's most cantankerous races in years. Candidates are trading barbs over everything from resume discrepancies to charges of tax evasion.
The first volley came Friday, when Mabrie Jackson sent out a mailer and put up a Web site entitled "Plano Resume Fraud." The mailer and site accused opponents Wayne Richard and Van Taylor of misrepresenting their records and other transgressions.
"Don't be tricked by resume fraud in the Plano State Representative Race," Jackson's Web site reads. The mailer blames Richard and Taylor for having "falsified their backgrounds to win votes" for the March 2 primary.
Richard and Taylor have fired back, accusing Jackson of spreading falsehoods and poisoning the political atmosphere.
Taylor charged Jackson, a former City Council member, of publishing "one of the most negative mail pieces in Collin County history." Richard characterized Jackson's allegations as "malicious and hateful."
Such heated rhetoric is unusual in Plano, which has long revolved around a stable of powerful incumbents and has rarely played host to knockdown campaigns.
But the stakes are high. The prize is the Texas House seat representing District 66, which has not been open since 1991. Incumbent Republican Brian McCall? is not seeking re-election.
The turbulent campaign also reflects a deepening battle to court conservative primary voters as all three candidates tilt to the right.
On her Web site and mailings, Jackson accuses Richard of "cheating on his business taxes," hosting a "voyeurism video" Web site and receiving campaign help from "extremists."
She also charged Taylor with being a "political carpetbagger" who is "searching for a political office to run for" (Taylor ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the Waco area in 2006) and of bankrolling his entire campaign.
Jackson declined to comment about the Web site or mailing, which feature her photo and campaign logo. Her spokesman Judd Pritchard called the materials a "comparison between candidates."
"All this stuff is legitimate candidate resume material," he said.
Richard said the accusations are "inaccurate, untruthful, hateful and inappropriate."
Regarding the charge that he has cheated on his business taxes, Richard, who owns a small Web company, said the accusation is false and proof of what he called Jackson's "lack of expertise in business and how she would address legislative issues as a representative."
Richard also responded to questions about his political ties. One of his top campaign aides, Peter Morrison of Lumberton, Texas, keeps a Facebook page on which Morrison has blamed the "Third World" for the Fort Hood shootings and criticized Texas schools for advocating diversity.
"I'm happy to have their support," Richard said of his aides.
Taylor, meantime, said Jackson's "attacks are negative and false." He did not dispute any of her claims when asked specifically about each of them. But he said he had been up front about his record.
"She is attempting to mislead voters that I'm trying to hide something," Taylor said.
Fundraising, like the rhetoric, has picked up in recent weeks.
Taylor, who works in real estate, has loaned his campaign $420,000, including nearly $200,000 since late January. He raised $41,000 from other sources during that period.
He gave more than $1 million in contributions and loans to his 2006 bid for Congress, federal records show.
Jackson has raised $64,000 in recent weeks, according to records. That includes more than $20,000 in cash from political action committees representing interests ranging from natural gas and liquor to finance.
She has more than $110,000 on hand.
Richard reported $47,000 in contributions, though that figure includes more than $37,000 in noncash campaign services.
He has spent $12,000 since late January and reported having no money left in his campaign account.
No Democrats are running for the seat.
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