The race between U.S. Reps. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) for Alabama's first congressional district has been nothing short of contentious, with the two sparring in political ads over their records.

During a debate Wednesday in Coffee County, an audience member asked Carl why his campaign approved an ad attacking Moore as being a "tax cheat" when Carl has been accused of the same thing by opponents in previous elections.

"Do you think it's appropriate to attack your opponent for something you're guilty of?" she asked.

Carl responded by saying, "You need to know who you're voting on."

"I know you love Barry. I know he's one of you. I know there may be six people in this room that actually support me," Carl continued. "But you need to know who you're voting on. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to get you to understand what the difference is between Barry and I. I've been in business 40 years, never had a tax lien."

Moore said his campaign would never authorize an attack ad against an opponent and that the tax lien against him was due to a simple accounting error and was lifted without penalty.

"In 2018, his [Carl's] political opponent ran an ad saying he was a tax cheat. It said he actually had to make installment payments to the IRS," Moore said. "Now I would not ever authorize my team in 100 years — we do not do oppo research — I would never allow my team to fund an ad that attacks a political opponent."

Moore has responded before to negative allegations from the Carl camp. After Carl aired a spot in early February proclaiming Moore was "not a conservative," Moore released a video pushing back against the charges.

"When a candidate goes negative, you know they're behind," Moore said in the ad.

While Moore appears to have a slight edge, it's still any man's race as the March 5 primary approaches.

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