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Twitter war turns personal in Perriello-Hurt contest

Ben Pershing

The bitter fight between Rep. Tom Perriello (D) and state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) in Virginia's 5th congressional district took a personal turn on Twitter Tuesday, when Perriello's campaign called Hurt's spokeswoman a "carpetbagger" and a national GOP operative responded by tweeting the home addresses of several Perriello staffers.

The spat comes as the race between Perriello and Hurt has grown increasingly negative, and attracted national attention to the question of whether Democrats might decide to withhold financial support for Perriello's bid in favor of other, more winnable races.

Using his hefty campaign war chest, Perriello went on the air in recent days with a tough new ad calling Hurt "lobbyists' best friend." On Tuesday, Hurt spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote on her Twitter feed: "Important to note that it was the Incumbent in this race @tomperriello that first went up with a negative ad #desperate." The Perriello campaign begged to differ, tweeting: "maybe bc @AMHenneberg is new to #VA05, she missed the first negative ad by the Hurt camp in June. #carpetbagger." (Technically, the Hurt ad from June was a Web ad, whereas the current Perriello spot is on television.)

That "carpetbagger" epithet drew the ire of Andy Sere, the National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman charged with handling Virginia races. "@VotePerriello you're pathetic," Sere wrote on his Twitter feed. Sere then proceeded to tweet the home addresses of several Perriello campaign aides from Arlington, Richmond, New York and elsewhere. "[Y]ou should fire your out-of-district staff or else everyone will think you're a hypocrite, Tom," Sere wrote.

Democrats say Sere went too far and raised the specter of some ugly recent history in the 5th district, where in March a gas line was cut at the home of Perriello's brother after his address was posted online by a tea party activist.

"NRCC spokesperson Andy Sere clearly crossed the line tonight, but will Robert Hurt stand by idly while those who recruited him and represented his campaign carry out these dangerous and unethical practices? It's appalling and outrageous," said Perriello spokeswoman Jessica Barba. "Robert Hurt should refuse to accept any more support from the NRCC unless Andy Sere is fired, especially given the history here."

Some Perriello supporters have started a petition to ban Sere from Twitter, arguing that he violated the site's terms of service. Though the addresses of campaign aides are publicly available via Federal Election Commission spending reports, "The Twitter Rules" include this restriction: "You may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission."

Republicans countered with a classic response -- they started it.

""We are surprised that Tom Perriello has reduced himself to attacking staff," said NRCC communications director Ken Spain, Sere's boss. "He's clearly lashing out after the DCCC practically declared him a political corpse in Sunday's New York Times and followed it up by releasing a poll showing him down after having been on the air with unanswered negative campaign ads for several weeks. His frustration is understandable, but unbecoming of a member of Congress."

As of Wednesday morning there was no indication that either side would apologize for its tactics.

By Ben Pershing  |  September 8, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  
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How cute! Twitter tantrums, a twit smackdown, ooohhh you can just imagine them pressing on those teeny buttons so hard, red cheeks, obliviosly.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 8, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Oh yeah? Well HE started it, Mommy!"
"No, HE did!"

I know politics is getting childish, but this is a bit surreal

Posted by: rockopete | September 8, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

What better reason to just ignore twitter. How many people really follow these candidates on twitter other than their staffers. It's such an important medium. Cm'on.

Posted by: chucko2 | September 8, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse


If the NRCC's Sere "twittered" the addresses of the Democrat's staff, and any of their homes, families, etc. are harmed in any way, Sere AND the NRCC will be held responsible by law and by the "law of the street."

Per the "Carpetbagger Issue": the RNC and NRCC send campaign staff all over the country to work on GOP campaigns.

Ask Cong. Ron Paul WHO ran his first GOP Campaign for Congress (an NRCC staffer).

So, the "Carpetbagger" claim by the NRCC's Sere is specious at best.

Perhaps the NRCC's SERE does not understand that the POLITICS OF HATE does result in VIOLENCE. But, it IS REAL and it CAN visit those who are breeding that HATRED in the mode of a political campaign.

Just a word of warning to you who are doing political campaigns, while those of us who are not, are watching to see just how far you will violate the sensibilities and morality of this nation before the ADULTS step in and put a stop to the likes of SERE and SPAIN at the NRCC before they get someone killed.

Posted by: gglenc | September 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

If you're complaining about the maturity of the candidates, then look in the mirror. They are us.

I've seen worse posted on sites like the WaPo. How come we expect our politicians to be better than we are?

If you don't like, run for office yourself.

Posted by: arancia12 | September 8, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Twitter is for twits.

Posted by: thrh | September 8, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are gross.

Posted by: jakemehoffer | September 8, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

a national GOP operative responded by tweeting the home addresses of several Perriello staffers.


This is a tortious act, and I hope the staffers sue his fat behind.

Posted by: trenda | September 8, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Newton's first or second law, I always get those confused...equal and opposite reaction...

Andy Sere
4646 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 664-0654

Posted by: Observer79 | September 8, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Third law.

Posted by: claytonfan | September 8, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Anybody got Andy Sere's home address? I'd like to drop by and discuss the Second Amendment with him.

Posted by: thrh | September 8, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Stick a metaphorical fork near Rep. Tom Perriello. He is just one of many Democrats about to be added to the unemployment line. Bye bye Congressman. You sold out Virginians for the affection of Obama and Pelosi. Brought your defeat entirely on yourself.

Posted by: johnhopkinson2004 | September 9, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

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