Votes remain to be cast but it is not too early to declare the surprise Republican star of the 2012 election: mommy (and sometimes daddy).
Republican candidates and congressmen across the country have turned to their parents in political ads this cycle to bolster their credentials, particularly on the hot-button issue of Medicare.
About a dozen House GOP candidates and at least six Republican candidates for Senate have aired ads featuring their moms, dads, mothers-in-law and grandmas to vouch for their good heart and swell intentions.
"I'm Bob Dold's mom. I don't support anyone unless they protect Social Security and Medicare," says the mother of freshman Illinois Republican Rep. Bob Dold in one of his ads. "I love you, mom," Dold replies, as they sit at the kitchen table.
If it seems obvious that mothers would support their children's political ambitions, GOP political strategists believe otherwise. They've found that endorsements from mom personalize a candidate and are best to brush away the barrage of Democratic charges that the GOP wants to "end Medicare as we know it."
It's one of the reasons Paul Ryan joined his mom on the campaign trail shortly after he was named Mitt Romney's running mate.
The GOP obsession with featuring mom in campaign ads dates, most notably, to Rep. Mark Amodei's special election run Nevada in 2011, in which the Republican candidate's mom was used to rebut charges that he wanted to end Medicare. "That's not true," she said. Amodei won and Republicans have turned to mom ever since.
Given their newfound prominence, we thought we'd compile the moms, dads, grandmas, mother-in-laws that have appeared in congressional ads this year in one place.
Check them out after the jump.