A longtime South Dakota legislator says his run for the state senate has taken a nasty turn more than a week before the primary.
More than a half dozen of Gene Abdallah's campaign signs have been targeted by vandals over the past few days.
Abdallah says he's disgusted and is going to leave the signs up to show the public the kind of campaign that's being run against him.
Representative Abdallah has served 12 years in the South Dakota legislature. This year he is running for the Senate and is facing Republican challenger Ernie Otten during the upcoming primary.
Abdallah is one of a dozen Republicans facing a challenger from their own party in the Senate this year. There are also Republican primaries in 15 of the 35 House districts where many incumbents are being challenged.
Abdallah believes the recent vandalism is just another negative attack from his opponents. His red, white, and blue campaign signs have been covered in silver spray paint over the past few days.
"Mine are the only ones that are vandalized and I'm thoroughly disgusted. I've always run a campaign on the high road. My opponent has attacked me personally," Abdallah said.
Since Thursday Abdallah says he's counted eight that have been specifically targeted. He believes its part of an aggressive campaign to cut off his long run in the state legislature.
He showed us some fliers that were sent out recently accusing him of being against gun rights and supporting the federal healthcare reform law. He says the fliers couldn't be further from the truth.
"My opponent and his supporters have sent out 16 nasty mailings on me. It's gutter style politics, Chicago-type politics and I don't think the people of South Dakota and the people of District 6 are going to appreciate it," Abdallah said.
Ernie Otten is running against Abdallah in the June 5th primary. He declined an on-camera interview but emailed a statement to KELOLAND News.
"I'm very disappointed to see the vandalism to Gene's signs. I may disagree with his voting record, but I respect him for his service,” Otten said.
Otten simply said that he is running against Abdallah because he doesn't agree with the way he's voted in Pierre.
Abdallah says he's not going to change the way he represents his district and he's going to keep the signs up through the primary because he won't be intimidated.
"I'm going to leave them up, let the public see them. Let the public see what I'm up against and who I'm dealing with," Abdallah said.
Other Republican candidates say they have had their signs vandalized as well in the past few days. Lora Hubbel and Jim Stalzer have had a few of their signs cut in half, and some other candidates in Lincoln County have reported stolen signs.