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‘They’re blatantly lying’: Vicious ads taint state Senate race in 45th District

WOODINVILLE, Wash. — It’s the most aggravating time of the year.

Campaign ads, mailers, and agenda hitting the airwaves, your web browser and mailbox.

It usually happens in political campaigns for governor and Congress — but it’s taking place in the state Senate race between Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund and Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra in the 45th Legislative District, which extends from Kirkland on the west, to Duvall on the east, and Sammamish on the south

“I do believe she is misleading the public in order to win an election,” Englund said.

Dhingra countered that her opponent’s ads are “lies.”

“Completely. I learn new things every time I see those ads,” she said.

Campaign filings show outside money, political action committees and other spenders totaled more than $3.4 million. A record.

The candidates themselves combined for record $2.4 million in spending -- that's nearly $1 million more than the previous pricey race.

The candidates are getting a bulk of their money from the local, state, and national political parties. Englund has a number of insurance companies who have made $2,000 donations. Dhingra has used over $10,000 of her own money and has a collection of contributions from family members and a gun law group.

And all that money fuels ads that have become vicious.

Let's take the Englund campaign's biggest complaint, that she called Donald Trump “magnificent.”

A divisive belief for a district turning more Democratic by the year, says strategist John Wyble.

“Donald Trump is defining what it means to be a Republican and that's not the kind of Republican that Eastsiders have been voting for,” he said.

The only problem is that Englund didn't really call him magnificent.

The claim by the political action committee Eastside Leadership Council took it out of context.

She was asked about Trump during a conference in Australia in late 2015 and didn`t quite show support for him.

"I think Trump is magnificent as an entertainer and he definitely is making the most of all the media appearances that he can,” she said.

Not a loving endorsement.

But it's not all one-sided negative ads on air and online.

The Englund campaign paints Dhingra as a Seattle lefty, cozy with polarizing political figures like City Council member Kshama Sawant and former Mayor Ed Murray.

Her “friends,” as they’re called in the ads.

It's just not true.

“I have never had a conversation with either of those people. Ever,” she said.

Then there are the actual issues -- the income tax and drug consumption sites.

In one online ad by the Englund campaign, heroin was spelled “heroine.” A mistake, but also part of an outright falsehood, according to Dhingra.

She doesn’t support an income tax or drug sites in the district.

She only wants a capital gains tax and wants cities and medical professionals to decide about drug injection sites.

“It's not even that they're exaggerating. They're blatantly lying. And the unfortunate part is that it's coming directly from her campaign,” Dhingra said.

Englund said the strategy is to keep Seattle values out of the Eastside.

“That kind of policy-making is very hostile to people in our district,” Englund said.

“But the party that she is a part of ... I think that it's misleading to say that the party that she is a part of, they are really the ones that would call the shots,” she continued.

Wyble says it's a common tactic, especially with first-time candidates. Little record to attack, so instead, campaigns attach controversy to party affiliation.

“You don`t have much to work with,” he said.

And in a race with such big money, big lies and big exaggerations seem to follow.