GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Supreme Court Judicial races are supposed to be non-partisan, and the races are usually tame compared to other political campaigns. But the race between Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. and challenger Chancery Judge Randy "Bubba" Pierce has heated up in recent days over a negative third-party television advertisement targeting Diaz.
The ad in question is sponsored by a political action organization out of Springfield, Virginia - the Law Enforcement Alliance of America. It accuses Diaz of voting for baby killers and the murderer of an elderly woman. Diaz calls those charges outright lies.
"It's reprehensible," Diaz told WLOX News. "It's horrible and worse than that, it's a lie."
Diaz's opponent, Randy "Bubba" Pierce, agrees that the ad is out of line.
"It bothers me when any third party gets involved in any races period," Pierce told WLOX News. "As I explained to my mother, I always look at who buys for the ad. If it's not paid for and approved by the candidate, disregard it."
In fact, the special judicial ethics committee this week labeled the ad as misleading. And Diaz has begun running his own rebuttal to it. In it, Diaz urges Mississippians to "vote against these groups and their hand picked candidate."
That charge has Pierce crying foul.
"I think it's his effort to try and associate me with something I have no control over," Pierce said. "The people that know me best, know my character, they know I don't walk in the shadows."
But Diaz thinks otherwise.
"This judicial watchdog group has also found that there is enough there that it looks as though these campaigns are coordinated," Diaz said.
Pierce is appealing that charge with the ethics commission. But it's likely the real end to this public fight will only come in the privacy of the voting booth.