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Late-stage campaign ad in Davenport mayoral race hits a nerve

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- A new political ad in the Davenport mayoral race hit televion screens and Facebook pages over the weekend, shaking up the race just days ahead of city elections.

The 30-second ad, put out by Alderman Rita Rawson on Saturday, ran over the weekend and on Monday. It does not mention her rival, Alderman Mike Matson, by name.

In it, former Davenport Mayors Thom Hart and Ed Winborn discuss the issue of integrity and reference a 2012 police investigation over an email leaking confidential city business.  Matson's computer was examined during the investigation,  but the case was eventually dropped and no charges were filed.

When asked about it on Monday, Rawson acknowledged the issue should have been raised earlier.

"People had asked me to do it, and I was really adamant, I did not want to have this be the central part of my campaign at all. But it just got to the point of more and more residents asking, why isn’t this out there? And I think some residents had talked to a number of reporters about the same issues, but nothing had gotten done. Finally the mayors stepped forward and that was timing on their part."

Scott County Democratic Party Chairwoman Elesha Gayman told News 8 the ad, attacking another party member, came as a surprise and shock to party leadership.

"It's not an issue with merit. Trying to rehash it is beyond playing fair," she said of the accusation.

In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, she said:

"As a former state elected official and a citizen burned out by the hateful rhetoric of today's national political climate, I strongly condemn the attack ad waged against Davenport Mayoral candidate Mike Matson this weekend. Mike is a phenomenal public servant, and has devoted his life to service through his career with the Army Rangers and local work with veterans and Davenport students.

Baseless attacks on unfounded accusations like this do a disservice to our public discourse and erodes the civility of one of the few civil spaces left in politics. We as a community are better than that."

Matson in a statement to News 8 said, "I can only say they must be desperate. I have had thousands of people vote for me in multiple elections since the thing. People trust me. People know I will stand up for them."

Voters make their choice for Davenport mayor Tuesday.

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