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Clash in Connecticut's 5th

Voters in Connecticut's 5th district won't head to the ballot box to choose between Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) and state Sen. Chris Murphy (D) for another seven months but the two sides are sniping at one another as though it is the weekend before the election.

The catalyst for the fight is MoveOn.org, which has targeted Johnson (along with Reps Chris Chocola, Deborah Pryce and Thelma Drake) in their "Redhanded" media campaign; the liberal organization is currently running its second series of television ads attacking the incumbents for accepting contributions from energy and pharmaceutical companies, and tying those donations to their support of the House-passed energy bill and Medicare prescription drug legislation.

"Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, Jack Abramoff and now Nancy Johnson....another Republican caught redhanded," says the narrator in the latest MoveOn spot running in the 5th district.

While all four Members condemned the ads, only Johnson decided to spend money out of her campaign kitty to respond to them.

Johnson is now up with an ad, which makes no mention of MoveOn, but rather attacks Murphy's "special interest friends." The narrator in the Johnson commercial goes on to describe Murphy as a "bought and paid for politician" while an image of an editorial by the Waterbury Republican American newspaper -- headlined "Benedict Murphy" --appears on the screen.

Sarah Merriam, Murphy's campaign manager, said that her boss has "said repeatedly that all of these independent groups should stay out" and accused Johnson of trying to "distract" voters by attacking Murphy rather than addressing the issues raised by the ads. "She knows very well that we are not coordinating with anyone," added Merriam.

Brian Flaherty, who serves as a co-chairman in Johnson's campaign, said a decision had been made early on that "we would respond strongly and forcefully to any kind of attack on Nancy." Flaherty added that Johnson "has been attacked and held back" in campaigns past and had learned her lesson.

By far Johnson's closest call came in 1996 when she faced a rematch against her 1994 opponent -- Charlotte Koskoff. Koskoff and the Democrats pummeled Johnson, then the chair of the House Ethics Committee, over her connections to Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was being investigated by her committee. Johnson won that race by 1,500 votes out of more than 220,000 cast.

Another reason for Johnson's decision to respond, according to Flaherty, is the huge financial edge she enjoys over Murphy. At the end of March Johnson had a whopping $2.5 million in the bank compared to Murphy's $655,000.

Will the ad exchange make a difference this November? Probably not. Johnson represents the best Republican district in the state (although Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry narrowly won it in 2004) and has shown an ability to win tough elections -- witness her convincing 2002 defeat of fellow Rep. Jim Maloney (D) in a redistricting-forced battle. Murphy is running an energetic campaign but needs a considerable national wave to topple Johnson.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 27, 2006; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Comments

She can be independent at times? To whom does she belong the rest of the time? I'm sure Conn. voters would like to know.

Posted by: Rick in Cincy | April 28, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Has Moveon.org helped the Democrats win seats in Congress? Not much of a record for a liberal special-interest group. I think the Democrat party should be involved in this race, not Moveon. But then again, the liberals and the Bush haters just keep flooding Moveon with fat cat checks hoping to drag down a Republican once in awhile.

Nancy Johnson is a strong woman in Congress, and can be independent at times. The Democrats love to smear people and they must be cheering as Moveon.org is doing their dirty work for them.

Posted by: Jennifer | April 28, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

My guess is Johnson holds on. She is aggressive and fits the district well.

Posted by: Silent Cal | April 28, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

yay

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 28, 2006 12:50 AM | Report abuse

www.onlinejournal.com
www.wsws.org
www.takingaim.info


http://www.unknownnews.org/0604280426deathtax.html

18 rich families pay for Republican campaign to kill estate taxes

by Sabrina Eaton, The Plain Dealer [Cleveland]
April 26, 2006

Eighteen of America's wealthiest families, including the Timkens of Canton, are bankrolling efforts to permanently repeal estate taxes that would save their families a total of $71.6 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by public interest groups.


Groups funded by the super-rich have engaged in a deceptive campaign to convince the public that estate taxes cause widespread problems for small businesses and family farms when they actually affect about one in 370 estates, said the report released by Public Citizen and Boston-based United for a Fair Economy.

This year, all assets under $2 million for individuals and under $4 million for couples are exempt from estate taxes. Current tax law will boost those exemptions to $3.5 million and $7 million in 2009, eliminate the estate tax in 2010, and re-impose it in 2011 with a $1 million exemption.

The House voted to permanently repeal the estate tax last year, but the measure stalled in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to override filibusters. Majority Leader Bill Frist says he will bring the bill up in May.

Ohio Republican Sen. Mike DeWine wants to repeal the tax because he says it hinders economic growth and penalizes society's most productive members, while Ohio GOP Sen. George Voinovich says the cost of eliminating it is too great: about $290 billion over the next 10 years. Voinovich would prefer a compromise to elevate the minimum threshold for estate tax liability to $3.5 million and regularly adjust it for inflation.

Groups that support estate tax repeal say they're close to getting the 60 votes they need. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform says 68 percent of Americans want the tax eliminated. He says estate taxes affect a broad range of people and dismissed the report's contention that it only affects the super rich as "tired rhetoric of hate and envy."

The groups that released the report called it a "myth" that estate taxes force families to sell farms and businesses. They said the taxes raise revenue from those most able to pay, prompt the rich to give to charity and deter concentrations of wealth.

They said families including those that founded Wal-Mart, Gallo wineries, Nordstrom's department stores, Wegman's grocery stores, the Mars candy company, Cox media chain and Campbell Soup Co. joined the Timkens in bankrolling an effort the groups' report called "one of the biggest con jobs in recent history."

The report says the 18 families financed business groups, trade associations and lobbyists to push for their goals. Information about their participation was obtained through lobbying reports and IRS forms filed by anti-tax groups, the report said.

Based on the Timken family's estimated $201.5 million stake in its company, the report predicted estate tax repeal would save its heirs about $79 million. A Timken Co. spokesman did not return phone calls.

Posted by: che | April 27, 2006 6:20 PM | Report abuse

As a former Johnson constituent, I always wanted to believe that she was an independent brand of Republican. I don't believe that now, and I am not sure that I ever really did.

Posted by: Chris | April 27, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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