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October 28th, 2010
09:29 AM ET

Dirty Politics: The dirtiest races

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

(CNN) - Let’s start with a simple truth: There are so many dirty races out there right now, that it would be impossible to call one the dirtiest. The fight between Republican challenger Sharron Angle and Democratic Sen. Harry Reid out in Nevada, for instance, has been worse than a bare knuckle brawl on a Saturday night. But then, the scrap down in Florida between Dem Rep. Alan Grayson and his challenger, Republican Dan Webster, has hardly been an afternoon at the zoo either.

There is a reason that so many independent observers of elections are saying this is at least as nasty as any they have ever seen, and maybe more so. So without picking a favorite, it is worth considering just how brutal it has been by checking in on a few of the contenders for top honors in the race to the bottom.

Up in the nation’s largest state, Alaska, it’s been all Miller, McAdams, and Murkowski, oh my! They have been mauling each other like bears. Joe Miller, the Republican contender, has been getting the worst of it in the past couple of days. He was under sharp pressure for weeks to reveal certain details about his professional past, and now they are out. He apparently admitted and was disciplined some years ago for improperly using government computers for private use and then lying about it.

You may recall the tussle caught on video when his security detail handcuffed a reporter who tried to ask him about it. (Note to campaigns: Most of us reporters aren’t that tough. Usually a good “shoo!” will run us off.) Now that has spawned another possible problem. Turns out the security guys were apparently active duty soldiers, so the Army is investigating.

Of course, all of this is pure music for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whom Miller beat for the GOP nomination and who is running for re-election as an independent in a write-in campaign. She has publically challenged him. "What would your instructors, what would your classmates at West Point say about how well you have lived up to your code of honor?"

If you’ve ever known a West Point grad, you know that those are fighting words. So Sarah Palin, who backs Miller, issued a statement that said in part, “I find it astonishing that a sitting U.S. senator from Alaska would challenge the honor of a decorated combat veteran."

The Democrat in this whole scrum, Scott McAdams, seems perfectly content to stand by and occasionally spur on the fight on the right, in hopes of being the last candidate standing on Election Day.

Still out West, but down in the Lower 48, Colorado is also witnessing a bitter battle. Tea Party backed Republican Ken Buck has ripped into incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet as little more (or maybe a little less) than a White House “yes” man.
And Buck has had help. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group has been funneling millions of dollars from anonymous donors into races everywhere and Colorado seems to be a favorite. One ad from the group says, “Bennet voted to spend an average 2.5 billion dollars per day on things like the failed pork-filled stimulus and Obama-care…We are outraged. You have wasted our money."

For his part, Bennett is seizing on a number of statements by Buck that have raised questions about whether Buck believes in separation of church and state. Buck says he does, but this brawl is expected to go right down to the wire.

Speaking of the wire, there has been a lot of rough stuff in the Kentucky derby. Democrat Jack Conway rolled out a weird sort of mad hatter ad against Rand Paul, citing a college stunt as alleged evidence of Paul’s shaky religious beliefs, and his tendency to worship a previously unknown deity called “aqua Buddha.”

Paul says heavens no; he’s a solid Christian. But the Tea Party backed Republican has faced other questions after his followers scuffled with a liberal activist, knocked her down, and stepped on her. They even took her wig. Paul quickly shored up the “no stomping on opponents” plank in his platform by saying there was no cause for that.

Which leads us to Connecticut, where Linda McMahon, the Republican, is part of the family that owns WWE. Yes, that’s right: The TV wrestling empire, where they know a thing or two about putting a man into a headlock.

Her opponent, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, came under fire for speeches in which he suggested he fought in Vietnam, when he didn't. He was in the Marine Corps Reserve and stayed stateside. She called it a lie. He called it a misstatement that he cleared up in other parts of those speeches.

Democratic supporters of Blumenthal, meanwhile, have tried to tar McMahon over deaths and injuries in pro wrestling. They've howled about a one-time joint program between WWE and 'Girls Gone Wild.' (If you are unfamiliar with that franchise, Google “Wild –Girls-Gone.” Uh, and make sure the kids are out of the room.)

The latest in the combat in Connecticut? A court fight over whether state election officials can limit people wearing WWE clothing to polling places. The courts say no, keep wrestling.

Considering the state of this election, that’s as good a message as any.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Mary

    Dirty politics, attack ads and character defamation are the adult version of bullying. Seems as if many with political aspirations are stuck in adolescence. If we are going to address bullying in the schools then we need to also address it in politics.

    October 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I always assume that if a candidate has to resort to nasty attacks, innuendo, and other dirty political tricks then they must have no policies of their own or goals that they would like to achieve should they perchance be elected and that they think the electorate is too stupid to notice. The louder they get the less they stand for – except for perhaps an older version of bullying done by adults to other adults after the school years. Its too bad there are so many of them and that with the passage of time they seem to multiply.

    October 28, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  3. jenny

    How about Georgia. We are getting prety nasty down here. Apparently Nathen Deal Republican has more money than God because he has thrww commercials trashing Roy Barnes the Democrat to Barnes every one. Deal's are also nastier. I have yet really heard eithr one offer any solutions just a whole lot of mud.

    October 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  4. Will

    Resident of Colorado, and tired of the negative campaigns.

    The sad fact is, both of the major candidates for the Senate for Colorado are right. Their opponent is not qualified to represent the people of Colorado.

    In all likelihood........... one of these two representing the two major parties will win on November 2nd, unfortunately the end result will likely be that the citizens of Colorado will lose.

    Sad state of affairs when this choice was the best that could be offered.

    October 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm |