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Politics

Who's the Incumbent, Again?

October 18, 2012
Wilson's campaign is another rematch from 2010 - he was knocked off by Rep. Bill Johnson -- but even Rick Nolan, whose earlier stint in Congress ended in 1981, is not unscathed by his time in the House. In Minnesota's 8th District, American Action Network and the NRCC have hit hard on Nolan's votes to raise congressional pay and the debt limit, and have accused him of missing one third of votes at the end of his term. An American Action Network ad uses disco music combined with '70s-era graphics to jog voters' memory on Nolan's record and convince them to vote for GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack instead. Contrast that with the first-time candidates running. Former astronaut Jose Hernandez is challenging Rep. Jeff Denham in California's 10th District. Among the attacks against him: His time at NASA and recent relocation to the district makes him a carpetbagger, and he missed voting in some primary and local elections while living in Texas. In Illinois' 10th District, Republicans are hitting Brad Schneider over the fact that his business earned no income for three years, according to records. "A businessman with no business in Washington," says an NRCC ad. On the other side of the state, in the 12th District, multimillionaire Jason Plummer's campaign has labeled retired Gen. Bill Enyart a "millionaire trial lawyer." Plummer, 30, has struggled to shake the assertion that he owes his success to his wealthy family. A memorable ad from Rep. Allen West in Florida's 18th District targets Patrick Murphy for a drunken fight during his college days. While the personal attacks may provide fodder in some races, Republicans are also hitting candidates from business and military backgrounds with ties to Washington, trying to link them to the agendas of unpopular Democrats. "(Hotel magnate) Jim Graves is already siding with big-spending Washington liberal Nancy Pelosi," says an ad from Rep. Michele Bachmann airing in Minnesota's 6th District. Other ads against Murphy, Hernandez, Schneider and Enyart highlight their support of Democratic proposals and seek to tie them to figures such as Pelosi. While those candidates have the advantage of a largely undefined political career, those Washington ties may prove harder to shake for former representatives, who have to overcome their own voting records and past association -- no matter how distant -- with a branch of government whose approval rating resides in the low teens.
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