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NRCC's Hail Mary in NY-24

Sometimes a television commercial doesn't even have to run to make an impact.

Take the recent spot by the National Republican Congressional Committee in New York's 24th district, which is being vacated by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R).

The commercial features a woman -- in silhoulette -- dancing lasciviously while a female narrator says: "Hi sexy. You've reached the live, one-on one fantasy line." The spot goes on to note that a hotel bill from Oneida County Attorney Michael Arcuri (D) listed a call to a phone-sex line that was subsequently billed to Oneida County taxpayers.

Arcuri immediately disputed the ad, releasing documentation that showed the call was accidentally placed by an associate of Arcuri's; the Associated Press reported that the phone sex line shares the last seven digits with the New York Department of Criminal Justice, where a call was made less than a minute later.

Due to the controversy, the ad ran only a few times in the district. But, the resultant hubbub has ensured that any voter paying attention to the race is now aware of it. Is that a good thing or a bad thing for Republicans?

At first glance, it appears to be a bad thing. Both Arcuri and his opponent, state Sen. Ray Meier (R), have disavowed the ad. Democrats describe it as as a typical "Hail Mary" by national Republicans who see this race slipping from their grasp.

Republicans, privately, argue that the saturation coverage the ad has received has helped steer the campaign conversation away from Meier's record on taxes -- a good thing to their mind.

Our read is that the ad -- while potentially effective -- may have crossed the line of common decency, having the opposite effect that Republicans intended.

The reality of the race is that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has effectively labeled Meier as a tax raiser due to his votes cast in the state legislature, making it difficult for Republicans to hold the seat on Nov. 7. It's not immediately clear how much (or little) impact the phone sex ad will have on the race, but our guess is that it won't make all that much difference in the final result.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 24, 2006; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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