He said, she said

When Democratic attorney general candidate Jennifer Granholm was asked what sets her a part from her Republican opponent John Smietanka, she answered, "besides honesty?" Her response characterizes the tone of this campaign which turned sour this month after Smietanka accused Granholm of supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Fieger's crime plan.

With the polls showing a neck-and-neck race, who will replace 37-year incumbent Attorney General Frank Kelley is anybody's guess. But Granholm is banking on a backlash from a television commercial that depicts her as an "inexperienced" and "dangerous" liberal, who intends to release thousands of imprisoned criminals into the streets.

"It is a lie, just a lie," says Granholm, about the ad. "This is the attorney general's race, the top law enforcement officer, you are the person who is to protect the consumer from deceitful ads."

Neither Smietanka nor his aides returned calls to the Metro Times about the ad.

The commercial did backfire with one voter. In a 30-second ad, Kelley does what he has been touted for years as doing best -- warning consumers. He says that the commercial, which is paid for by the Republican Party, is a "con job" and that Smietanka is running a dishonest campaign. The day Fieger came out with his crime plan, which in part calls for rehabilitating more nonviolent criminals and shortening their prison sentences, Granholm publicly disavowed it.

Granholm, who has raised about $800,000 for her campaign, says that she hopes the two candidates can get back to the issues and make them the focus of the campaign.

The following summarizes the two candidates' experience and how they stand on some issues:

Granholm: The 39-year-old Harvard graduate is the first woman and youngest person to serve as Wayne County's corporation counsel, which she has done since 1995. Prior to this, she worked four years at the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern Michigan, handling hundreds of criminal cases. She lives in Northville with her husband and three children.

Proposal B (assisted suicide): Opposed.

Affirmative action: Favors.

Capital punishment: Opposed.

Has Engler done enough to take care of the environment? No.

Abortion rights: Favors.

Why she wants to be attorney general: "We are all here to give something back ... that's what it is all about."

Smietanka: After deciding to leave seminary school, he entered John Marshall Law School in Chicago. In 1970, he became an assistant prosecuting attorney for Berrien County and was elected the county's prosecuting attorney for three terms. In 1981, he was appointed as a U.S. Attorney for the Michigan western district. He developed the Weed and Seed program which helps communities rehabilitate themselves. The Ada resident currently has his own law practice. He is the divorced father of a 13-year-old daughter, who fell $3,085 behind in child support payments last year, but has since paid up.

Proposal B (assisted suicide): Opposed.

Affirmative action: Opposed.

Capital punishment: Opposed.

Has Engler done enough to take care of the environment? Yes.

Abortion rights: Opposed.

Why he wants to be attorney general: "To breathe new life into the office of the state's chief law enforcer. The attorney general needs to be pro-active, aggressive and fair in dealing with organized crime, street gangs and casinos." (From his Web site.)

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