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DCCC promotes Libertarian candidate in 1st District

Ben Pershing

In recent weeks, some voters in Maryland's 1st District have gotten an interesting flier in the mail, asking, "Is Richard Davis out of touch with Maryland?"

Davis is the Libertarian candidate in the contest against Rep. Frank Kratovil (D) and state Sen. Andrew Harris (R). The mailing isn't designed to hurt his campaign; it's supposed to help him -- and Kratovil.

The flier, as the disclaimer on it clearly indicates, was sent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and it is part of a strategy in several contests across the country to boost Democrats by getting third-party candidates to peel away support from Republicans.

In Maryland, the DCCC flier says, "Richard Davis is a complete outsider. We need government to get us out of this crisis, but Richard Davis and the Tea Party would bring smaller government and spending cuts." The flier's existence was first noted by the Eastern Shore-based Monoblogue.

Though the mailer purports to be negative, that small-government message may well resonate in the 1st District, which has long leaned to the right and which backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race by 19 points.

As the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported Friday, the DCCC has sent similar mailings out in Virginia's 5th District, with messages that seem to criticize independent candidate Jeffrey Clark but are actually designed to increase his vote, hurt state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) and help Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in the process. Politico writes that the DCCC has used the same tactic in races in Colorado, Texas, Michigan and Florida.

Does the DCCC acknowledge that it's actually trying to help these third-party candidates? Not exactly.

Asked for comment on the Maryland mailing, DCCC spokesman Shripal Shah said, "Voters deserve to know that Richard Davis is an extremist."

By Ben Pershing  | October 30, 2010; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections, Ben Pershing  
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