House Democratic Campaign Arm Goes Negative

August 30, 2010 - 6:05 PM
Democrats' House campaign committee is starting its first advertising blitz of the fall election cycle Tuesday with a TV spot hammering Wisconsin GOP candidate Sean Duffy, one of several Republicans who are threatening to wrest an open Democratic seat.
Washington (AP) - Democrats' House campaign committee is starting its first advertising blitz of the fall election cycle Tuesday with a TV spot hammering Wisconsin GOP candidate Sean Duffy, one of several Republicans who are threatening to wrest an open Democratic seat.
 
The ad charges that Duffy, running for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey, favors privatizing Social Security. It's the first salvo in what promises to be a series of highly negative ads by Democrats as they fight an uphill battle to keep control of the House in a toxic political environment.
 
The party's decision to air it before Labor Day reflects what strategists say privately is a calculated tactic in key districts: Blast Republican candidates early in attempts to disqualify them in voters' eyes before they can make a case for themselves.
 
"Remember the crash?" an announcer asks over a sinister soundtrack in the ad, which intersperses images of worried-looking women and senior citizens with Duffy's face. It says people could have lost 40 percent of their retirement benefits if Social Security had been invested in the stock market.
 
Duffy says in a message on his website that he doesn't back privatizing the government retirement program for the elderly, but the ad cites a video taken of him on the campaign trail in which he appears to endorse a GOP congressman's economic plan. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the top Republican on the Budget Committee, has proposed the partial privatization of Social Security.
 
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wouldn't say how much it's spending to air the advertisement, but a party official called the purchase significant, and said it would saturate the district's largest media market.
 
The race to succeed Obey in the 7th Congressional District has already drawn national attention. Duffy, a former district attorney and star of MTV's "The Real World, has secured the backing of Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He's the clear GOP front-runner in a Sept. 14 primary and is likely to face Democratic state Sen. Julie Lassa in the general election.
 
Obey, the Appropriations Committee chairman, is retiring after 21 terms in the House representing the Democratic-leaning district.