Thursday, July 06, 2006

How Low Can They Go? Republicans Continue To Snipe At Each Other As The Primary Nears

The Republican primary race is now coming down the backstretch and is getting nastier with each passing day.

Personally, I have no problem with the Republican candidates bashing each other to a pulp. It just shows the people who the real candidate with class and dignity is in this U.S. Senate race. (Plus, as the article below notes, it weakens the eventual winner)

Any Sher of the Chattanooga Free Times Press, has some good inisght on just how nasty the Republicans are getting with each other in the final days of the primary:

Tennessee’s three major Republican U.S. Senate candidates find themselves under attack in this election with charges such as "hypocrite," "deceitful" and "fraud" being used with increasing frequency.

But it is not Democrats who are using the terms, as GOP hopefuls Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary and Bob Corker largely are responsible, an observer said.

"It has been kind of rough," said Ed Cromer, editor of the Tennessee Journal, a nonpartisan weekly newsletter.

"I guess the real question is can they mend fences once the primary is over," Mr. Cromer said. "Considering how hard some of the feelings have been, it probably won’t be that easy, although these things do have a way of settling down once the election is over."

Many of the attacks have come from Mr. Bryant and Mr. Hilleary, who have questioned Mr. Corker’s conservative credentials. The three are on the GOP’s Aug. 3 U.S. Senate primary ballot.

They have criticized Mr. Corker for increasing Chattanooga property taxes as mayor, his 1994 statements that government should not intervene in abortion matters and the 1988 arrest of four illegal immigrant employees of a subcontractor working for a Corker-owned construction firm.

"He raised taxes, increased spending, supported pro-abortion policies and got busted for having illegal aliens on his job site," Mr. Bryant said Friday on the heels of the latest debate Thursday. "It’s pure hypocrisy for Bob to say that his record is conservative."

During the debate, Mr. Corker raised questions about Mr. Bryant and Mr. Hilleary, two former congressmen who later became lobbyists.

"The first step in ethics reform is to absolutely not allow people to immediately leave Washington and lobby," Mr. Corker said. Throughout the debate, Mr. Corker referred to Mr. Bryant and Mr. Hilleary as "my Washington friends."

Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. and state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke called the three major Republican candidates the "Three Stooges."

State Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis called U.S. Rep. Ford "immature" for making the comparison.

"It kind of amused me that the Republicans were complaining about the use of the Three Stooges," Mr. Cromer with the Tennessee Journal said. "That’s mild compared to ‘two-faced’ and ‘double talk.’"

Mr. Bryant’s Senate campaign, meanwhile, created the bobthe’ Web site to chronicle Mr. Corker’s alleged misdeeds and "false" representations. It features a smiling, sunglasses wearing man with trinkets dangling from the exposed interior of his plaid jacket.

The Web site headings include "fraud watch," "double talk" and "conception deception."

Mr. Davis said Tennessee Republicans will not be divided by the primary’s result.

"Each one of them gave me their word that they would be with whoever wins the primary," Mr. Davis said. "I have no reason not to believe that."

All three said during last Thursday’s debate that they would support the eventual nominee.

But Mr. Hilleary, who has sought to portray the contest as a battle between the "liberal" and "conservative" wings of the GOP, said he wishes "we had a more conservative senator than I believe Mr. Corker would represent." U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said harsh tones can be a concern.

"I think everybody knew that if all three of these candidates stayed in this race that it would really heat up to a boil," said Rep. Wamp, who is backing Mr. Corker. "I think the danger here is that we’re not as unified as we’re going to need to be after the primary."

Mr. Corker’s fund-raising advantage has made him the only Republican so far with a significant television advertising presence, Rep. Wamp said. That has catapulted Mr. Corker into the front-runner’s slot, he said.

"Normally the front-runner is attacked more than anyone else," Rep. Wamp said.

He predicted the three will come together after the primary to present a united GOP front against Rep. Ford.

Mr. Bryant and Mr. Hilleary, meanwhile, raised questions during Thursday’s debate about the 1988 arrests of the illegal aliens employed by a subcontractor at a construction site overseen by Mr. Corker.

Mr. Corker said he was not responsible and that the experience makes him better suited to address immigration issues in Congress. He said then-Reps. Bryant and Hilleary failed to support efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

"My Washington friends are talking the talk on illegal immigration, but when they were in Congress, they voted against several proposals to crack down on illegal immigration, allowing the problem to become a crisis," Mr. Corker said.

If the behaviors above are not "stooge-like", I would like to know what is.

Tennesseans deserve better than this kind of behavior. Whatever happened to having civility and being cordial to one another throughout a campaign? Congressman Ford and Senator Kurita ran a primary the way it is supposed to be ran--on the issues.

However, the same can't be said for these guys. Below is just a taste of some of the names Corker, Bryant, and Hilleary and lobbed at each other during the primary:

  • "double talker"
  • "clueless"
  • "delusional"
  • "immature"
  • "deceptive"
  • "tacky"
  • "self-congratulatory"
  • "a walking, talking hypocrite"
  • "fraud"
  • "Tennessee's mini-version of a Bill Clinton -John Kerry clone"
  • "Wizard of Oz in this race"
  • "wishy-washy"
  • "The candidate of choice of K Street lobbyists"
  • "unloyal"
  • "misleading"
  • "not a serious adult"

Do they actually think that kind of nasty campaigning is effective, or classy for that matter?

August 3rd can't come quick enough for me. I can't wait for Tennesseans to see how clear of a choice they have this November.

We can either have a new generation of leadership that will put partisanship and bickering aside, or we can have a stooge that is driven by partisanship and rancor.

It is just that simple.

I am confident that when given that choice, Tennesseans will choose correctly and make Harold Ford Jr. our next U.S. Senator.

More Accusations: Blogging for Bryant Asks Whether Van Is Still Pocketing Indian Casino Money

185 Days

Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!