Faced with unfavorable prospects in November's midterm elections, Democratic groups are causing trouble in Republican primaries.
Democrats are promoting right-wing candidates across the country in Tuesday's primary elections. While establishment Republican groups have worked doggedly to protect their own, Democrats hope that boosting Tea Party candidates will pay dividends come November.
In New Jersey's 3rd District, the Democrat-affiliated Patriot Majority USA has spent more than $100,000 on advertising and direct mail to promote Republican House candidate Steve Lonegan. Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, N.J., backed by Sarah Palin, is locked in a heated primary battle with businessman Tom MacArthur, endorsed by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Since late May, Patriot Majority has sent thousands of direct mail pieces attacking MacArthur for supporting tax increases. The same mailer presents Lonegan as supportive of cutting government programs and defunding Planned Parenthood.
"To have a super PAC led by President Obama's top consultants playing in the race is for one reason and one reason only: to try to rescue the sinking campaign of Steve Lonegan," a MacArthur campaign spokesman told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. He continued, "If [Democrats] get Lonegan, they get the candidate they want."
MacArthur and Lonegan are competing to replace retiring GOP Rep. Jon Runyan. Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard is the expected Democratic nominee. Most observers call the race for the seat a toss-up.
In California's 7th District, the Nancy Pelosi-backed House Majority PAC has soaked the Sacramento area with mailers and television spots attacking former Rep. Doug Ose for voting to cut $15 billion in veterans benefits while voting to increase his own pay during his first stint in Congress from 1998-2004. Ose faces two conservative challengers in his June 3 primary, Igor Birman and Elizabeth Emken. Down the coast in Palm Springs, the California Democratic Party sent mailers assailing Republican Brian Nestande for failing to pay nearly $10,000 in taxes. The California assemblyman is fighting against Tea Party upstart Ray Haynes.
In Mississippi, embattled Republican incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran is bucking the national trend and openly courting Democrats. The Cochran-affiliated group All Citizens for Mississippi released a mailer to registered Democrats touting his bipartisan streak and pork-barrel appropriations secured for the state. Cochran is seeking a seventh term against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.