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.
Mary Ann Akers
June 30, 2009; 1:01 PM ET
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