NY-20: Democrat Closes with Palin, Limbaugh
In the closing hours of the special election in New York's 20th district, Democrat Scott Murphy is doing everything he can to nationalize the race around some of the more controversial figures in the Republican Party.
After using conservative talk-radio show host Rush Limbaugh in a direct mail piece last week, Murphy is out with another mailer that uses Limbaugh as well as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former president George W. Bush to urge Democrats to turn out to vote tomorrow.
"Upstate New York can have a Congressman who works for them" reads the front of the mailer with an arrow pointing to pictures of Limbaugh, Palin and Bush "or one who works for you." Above a picture of Murphy is written: "Republicans want to stop President Obama. On Tuesday, you can help stop them."
Murphy's opponent -- state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco -- has worked to distance himself from the national Republican Party but that separation has been difficult to sell, as the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent more than $800,000 on ads in the contest.
In its endorsement of Murphy on Sunday, the Albany Times Union painted the race as a choice "between a candidate who would work with Mr. Obama to achieve his goals, and one who would continue Washington's partisan divide" and added:
"At a time when this nation desperately needs politicians in Washington to work together, the Republican Party, searching for a new identity, is defining itself largely by what it is against, namely, Mr. Obama and his policies. Its leaders line up behind radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who openly declares his hope that Mr. Obama's agenda fails."
As we have written before, the vacuum of leadership atop the Republican party carries considerable peril for any candidate running with an "R" after his or her name. Democrats, smartly, are elevating the profiles of the likes Bush, Palin and Limbaugh who are broadly disliked among their party's base and among many independents and GOPers have little (or nothing) with which to counter that attack.
If, as polling suggests, Murphy is headed to a come-from-behind victory tomorrow then you can expect to see much more of this sort of strategy out of Democrats in the two crucial 2009 gubernatorial races (in New Jersey and Virginia) and potentially in the 2010 midterms if Republicans still haven't settled on a leader for their party.
It's a dangerous time for the GOP; the sooner they can find a high-profile (and effective) spokesman (or woman), the better.
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