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Dispute Over Ad Mars Lee County Sheriff Campaign

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SANFORD, N.C. — In Lee County, the campaign signs for the county's sheriff position are up, and the gloves are off.

The latest dustup between candidates Kevin Bryant and Tracy Carter is over a newspaper ad Carter took out in the Sanford Herald. It featured a picture of Attorney General Roy Cooper with the caption: "Look What N.C.'s Attorney General Says" next to a law enforcement badge.

Bryant charges the ad was deceptive.

"It implies the attorney general of our state, Roy Cooper, has endorsed him in some manner as sheriff here in Lee County," Bryant said.

For his part, Carter said the ad was meant to inform voters of his professional credentials, not to mislead them.

"It was never meant to insinuate an endorsement from Roy Cooper," Carter said.

In the ad, Carter took an excerpt from a letter he received from Cooper's office last year when he was chief of Lee County Schools' special police force. The department was recognized for outstanding service.

Bryant contacted Cooper's office about the ad. The attorney general's staff issued a letter stating that neither he nor his office has endorsed any candidate for Lee County sheriff. Bryant used the letter to take out his own full-page ad.

"I appreciate the attorney general office stepping up to the plate and answering my question," Bryant.

Cooper's office also contacted Carter, who pulled the ad after it had run for four days.

"I hope this will put this issue to rest," Carter said.