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Two House Races, Made For Reality TV

Updated, 1:45 p.m.

Is reality TV having a trickle-down effect on politics these days, or what?

A fundraiser in San Diego for a Democratic candidate for Congress got so out of hand last weekend that police showed up, arrested the host of the fundraiser and used pepper spray on the partygoers. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said in a statement it has ordered an internal review of the handling of the incident.

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, the mayor of Manchester, Frank Guinta, who is a highly touted Republican candidate for Congress, is being questioned for his involvement in a bar brawl that reportedly left one man's leg severely broken. Guinta is running to oust Rep. Carol Shea Porter, one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country.

Guinta was at the bar with his friends the Garrity brothers -- Mike Garrity, an alderman, and Pat Garrity, a firefighter and state representative -- when at least one of the Garritys was accused of beating up a man named Thomas English. The alleged victim's family tells the Manchester Express they were furious with Mayor Guinta and Mike Garrity for leaving English injured on the floor and departing the bar before an ambulance showed up.

Guinta told the Express: "It happened so fast I didn't see it." He added that he "had no idea that [English] had injuries to the extent that he did. I'm not a doctor."

The New Hampshire Democratic Party, quite naturally, has weighed in questioning why Guinta didn't call the police from the Fish and Game Club and why he left the scene before paramedics arrived.

"Frank Guinta tried to make a name for himself by having liquor licenses pulled from downtown bars where violence occurred, but when it involved a fight at the Fish and Game Club, he refused to call the police," says Victoria Bonney, New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director. "He has clearly put himself and his career before the safety of the city he was elected to lead."

In the San Diego kerfuffle, there were no broken bones, but the host of the fundraiser -- in the upscale Cardiff-by-the-sea neighborhood, no less -- was arrested for assaulting a deputy who was responding to complaints about noise, according to the San Diego county Sheriff's Department.

The deputy on the scene arrested Shari Barman, 60, deployed pepper spray and called for backup, says the sheriff's statement. "Another individual was cited at the scene," according to the statement.

The fundraiser was being held for Francine Busby, a Democrat seeking a rematch against Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.). Busby told the Los Angeles Times that the deputy who used pepper spray on her supporters "clearly overreacted."

"There was no noise, there was no problem, these were middle-aged men and women talking very quietly," she said.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 30, 2009; 1:01 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Report: John Edwards Faces New Questions About Paternity
Next: Aide Comes to Sarah Palin's Defense


good Lord, soon we will have to add B.G. and A.G. to politics, Before Grinch, and After Grinch. Politics is in the toilet. I'm proud of the fact that I was working on the nuclear freeze in the early '80's and I saw Gingrich outside walking towards the steps of the capitol building and I ran up on him and he looked like he was going to curl into a ball. I thrust my freeze material toward him and he mumbled something about reading it later. I've hated him ever since.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | June 30, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The Busby fundraiser didn't "get out of hand," it was a poltically motivated noise complaint to the sheriff's department by a neighbor who had been shouted anti-gay and anti-Democrat epithets throughout the event (the hosts of the event are a lesbian couple). The host who was attacked by the deputy sheriff inquired why he needed her date of birth to verify if she owned the home. He threw her and her partner to the ground while pepper-spraying other middle-aged attendees who were trying to advise him of the host's recent shoulder surgery.

You should make an effort to get the facts before characterizing an event as out-of-control in order to fit your narrative.

More here:,0,5491571.story

And here:

Posted by: TeddySanFran | June 30, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

TeddySanFran is right, it couldn't be that after an embarrassing fundraiser that they might want to spin it as not their fault.

It's quite possible that the noise complaint was biased but middle aged men and women should know that the correct place to fight a citation is in court and not by refusing to give Sheriff deputies information.

We can all denounce bigots but lets not pretend that the Sheriff involved here went in and tackled a few senior citizens while pepper spraying a crowd under some "Vast right-wing conspiracy".

Posted by: jetstoknowhere | July 1, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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