Provocative Wash. political ad for state senate seat causes stir

Provocative Wash. political ad for state senate seat causes stir »Play Video

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A provocative campaign flier is causing quite a stir in a state Senate race. It shows the sexy image of a high school student, and talks about consensual relationships with teachers.

But the target of the ad says it's over the top.

"I thought this was shocking and disgusting," said Jeannie Darneille, a Democrat vying for the 27th District Senate seat.

The picture shows what appears to be a high school student in short shorts.

"It was chosen because it's seductive," Darneille said. "It's chosen because it's luring somebody in to read this piece."

The piece reads, "Hard to imagine. She's a teenager and her math teacher groomed and had a sexual relationship with her for almost a year. But Jeannie Darneille says that's not criminal."

"I absolutely don't support teachers having sex with students," Darneille said.

Darneille does not deny that as a State Representative in 2009, she voted against a bill that made it a crime for teachers to have a consensual sexual relationship with female students who are 18, 19 or 20 years old.

Her opponent, fellow Democrat Jack Connelly, approved the flier with the leggy young woman.

"The vote was a bad vote that Jeannie Darneille made," Connelly said. As for the ad: "I didn't think it was as racy as people are saying."

Darneille said she believes 18, 19 and 20-year-olds are adults able to make their own decisions.

"They can be voting, they can be joining the Army, they can be getting married," she said.

Connelly counters: "The statistics show that the group that is the most vulnerable to this type of grooming and attacks are in the 18-21 year old age group."

Darneille says it's just the latest in a number of attack ads from a successful attorney who's putting up nearly a million dollars of his money -- a state record. Now the million dollar question: is this campaign flier just telling the truth, or is it so provocative that the truth gets lost?

Darneille says the photo distracts from the real issues of the campaign: the fact that she's pro-choice, Connelly is pro-life; she favors marriage equality, he favors traditional marriage.

It is unusual to see two Democrats in the general election, but they were the top two vote-getters in the primary.