We were sitting one week, 7 days, out from the Primary, and time seemed to be moving at warp speed. All of us involved in the campaign joked about returning to a "normal" life in a few days. Still as campaign efforts intensified, we became ever more vigilante. Mailers coming out of the Armstrong Camp were increasingly more negative and sensational.

At this point in the campaign we had weathered several false accusations that had been leveled at us including involvement in the allegations of misconduct alleged by former staffers against Representative Armstrong. Our campaign had never had anything to do with any of this, but rumors were flying that we had.

The Cutler campaign also survived a potentially damaging incident involving Representative Armstrong and "Ghost Voting." In this case we were contacted and made aware that more than one witnesses had observed Gib placing a penny to "rig" his voting machine in the State House. The decision to release the information was a difficult one. In the end it became about the right of the voters to know the truth. The witnesses had asked that their identities remain confidential, however if questioned by the press they vowed to tell the truth.

The witnesses were contacted and confirmed the information, but for some reason the reporter writing the story did not quote them and instead left the impression that we were somehow manipulating things. After that it was hard to explain to people why we continued to refuse to name our sources. Still it was important to all of us that we honor our word even if the cost proved to be expensive.

The "penny" incident became the catalyst for accusations that would be thrown at us right up until the primary. One accusation was that we were too negative. The positive, upbeat, high spirited feelings of our campaign workers were overshadowed by this very public criticism. Our brochures were nowhere near as harsh as our opponent's yet we were somehow saddled with never ending character attacks. Bryan, however chose to inspire us to rise above the fray, by remaining truthful and honest while not backing down.

It also stunned me when people began asking about Bryan's faith. Bryan is not ashamed of his faith and it was made public in several venues. Although a devout Christian, Bryan does not use his faith as a way to acquire material things for himself. When asked by voters about his religious beliefs, he will openly talk about the important role God has played in his life. Still he never flaunted his religion so as to make himself appear more favorable in the eyes of the voters.

Now though we were sitting one week out, ready for the primary and preparing for our last mailer to go out - an open letter of "thanks" from Bryan to the voters of the 100th District. There was no question we would end on a positive note.

Our last campaign event before the Primary was to be held in Conestoga that Friday - four days before the election. The Town Hall style meeting format had been highly successful in previous venues and this one looked to be no exception.

Little were we to know that the final bomb was about to be dropped and it would land squarely on our heads.

Next week: The final battle takes place

Shelley Castetter lives in Bart Township. Her e-mail address is southernexposure1@yahoo.com.

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