Showing their desperation to pump up the flagging candidacy of freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil in an R + 13 district, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has sent out a series of mailers over the last week to conservative members of the district asking if Libertarian candidate Dr. Richard Davis, a dentist from Hurlock, is “too conservative.”
It’s obvious that Beltway Democrats recall how the First District was only carried by Kratovil in 2008 by 2,852 votes over Republican Dr. Andy Harris, with Libertarian Davis picking up 8,873 votes – or 2.5% of the total. All three are on the ballot again so it’s obvious this effort is to use the Libertarian alternative to peel away conservative support for Harris and make Davis again become the spoiler in the race.
I was alerted to these mailings by Cecil County Patriots member Jackie Gregory, who was one of the recipients. She adeptly pointed out in her note to me that “the purpose of these ads is to confuse voters who are sympathetic to the Tea party, thereby boosting Kratovil’s chances at re-election.”
She also provided some anecdotal evidence of the TEA Party’s effect in the district:
“Recently, a poll in our district was conducted which showed high favorability ratings of the Tea Party among likely voters. When I was doorknocking a couple of weeks ago, one thing that struck me was the overwhelmingly positive response I received when we mentioned the Tea Party. For every one of us that actually stays directly involved or connected to the Tea Party, there are several others who sympathize with the movement and watch from a distance.”
In one example Gregory told me she received a mailer (front and back) identified as being from the DCCC one day, then the next day got this unidentified mailer (front and back) making many of the same points. Knowing the amount of micromanaged research done by both parties, this mailing is probably limited to independents and “soft” Republicans who have previously identified themselves as conservatives or sympathetic to the Tea Party cause. It’s a cause which hadn’t come to fruition when Davis was on the ballot in 2008 but now represents a key bloc of voters. Moreover, there won’t be an Obama on the ballot to help Kratovil with the minority vote this time.
On Friday the Cecil County Patriots put out a joint press release with a number of other First District Tea Party Patriot and pro-liberty groups, calling on Frank Kratovil to “reject the sleazy tactics” of the national Democrats.
Similarly, the Maryland Libertarian Party has weighed in on the controversy practically from the beginning. They denounced the first mailing on their website, noting that Dr. Davis has accepted little assistance from the public. Instead, Davis has mostly self-promoted his campaign, accepting as outside help only in-kind donations from a local Libertarian activist and a generic radio commercial on behalf of all state Libertarian candidates paid for by the state party.
Yet except for a small piece on the Baltimore Sun‘s ”Maryland Politics” blogsite, this story of deception hasn’t been a staple of media coverage, pretty much only circulating among the activists like myself who regularly blog on Maryland politics. Obviously much of the news cycle is dealing with the fact there is a somewhat close statewide contest for governor that’s undergone its own twists and turns over the last few weeks. And there’s also the strong possibility that perhaps people are desensitized to dirty politics after being exposed to the process so much over the last year.
But when a party crosses the line in pursuit of power it should be noted and considered by voters. And while nearly 42,000 voters have already weighed in on the election thanks to early voting, there’s still 80 to 90 percent of the ballots out. Even at this eleventh-hour date, getting the truth out still can make a difference.