By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

The word "contrast" is popular in politics.

Campaigns in the race for House District 55 have used the term regularly. And for the next week or so, residents in the district should prepare to hear it a lot more.

Starting this morning at 5 a.m. on most local news stations and airing regularly throughout the week, you'll get a chance to see the contrast at work. Campaigns for Democrat Sam Murphey and Republican Ralph Sheffield are throwing the last of their campaign funds toward television commercials aimed at showing voters how the candidates contrast.

These are the biggest shots the campaigns will likely fire before the election, and be accompanied by mail pieces from both campaigns.

The last several weeks of the Republican Primary between former Temple Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Tyroch and Sheffield saw a great deal of "contrast" campaigning.

Now, the general election is beginning to fall along those similar lines.

Last Wednesday, Murphey kicked it in gear when his ad accused Sheffield of supporting school vouchers and energy companies.

Sheffield held a press conference that same day standing next to a sign which read "Sam Murphey broke his word."

That charge refers back to Murphey's continued promise of running a positive campaign.

Murphey, who was unopposed in the primary, also publicly defended Tyroch, Sheffield's former opponent, in an interview that same day, and said he would stick up for her. He also charged Sheffield with misleading the public in his ads during the primary.

"The truth was not told, and I'll stand up for Martha Tyroch at any time," Murphey said Wednesday. "She is not guilty of the things he threw at her, and she is a great public servant for HD 55 and has had a positive impact."

Murphey made no such public distinction between the two candidates during the runoff this spring, however.

In an April 5 interview, Murphey said, "I think these guys are making (Barack) Obama and (Hillary) Clinton look like school kids with their attacks," Murphey said on the last Saturday before the primary runoff between Tyroch and Sheffield. "I feel like scolding them a little bit. There's no telling what they'll concoct and throw in my direction, so I'm sitting here with some kind of apprehension about that."

He said he had no intention of taking part in the "politics of personal destruction" and noted he was ready to get into the game.

He's certainly in the game now.

In that same April interview, Murphey said "a lot of people have told me that they have lost their patience with personal attacks. I don't know. Unfortunately, it seems to work. If you want to be a leader, you have to exhibit qualities of leadership."

Contact Justin Cox at or call (254) 501-7568.

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