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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dirty Tricks in the 5th District?

I heard about this yesterday on Richmond's talk radio station, WRVA, when afternoon host Doc Thompson mentioned in passing during one of his well known rants on 5th District endangered incumbent Tom Perriello.  But to read about it in The Hill newspaper adds a little more punch to the story. 

The 5th District is one of many around the country where a third candidate is on the ballot.  Some have gained more traction than others.  The 5th District third candidate claims "Tea Party" affiliation though just how much that is true appears to be an unanswered question.  Enter Tom Perriello's campaign, who, according to Thompson and an op/ed in The Hill, has dropped direct mail urging conservatives and Tea Party supporters to vote for the third party candidate as "the real conservative" in the race.

This may be the first time in history that a candidate has engaged in an independent expenditure activity on behalf of one of his opponents, in order to split the vote against him and win in spite of losing a majority of the vote.

Perriello’s “independent” has claimed affiliation with a variety of local Tea Party groups. Yet even though he is acknowledged by local Tea Party leaders as being on their mailing lists, they don’t claim him as part of their team, let alone call him a leader. In spite of this disavowal, Perriello and this “independent” persist in their campaign to bring down the candidacy of Republican nominee Rob Hurt.
Phase two of this strategy is a Perriello ad using what appear to be clips of debate comments from several of Hurt's Republican Primary opponents.  The end of the ad makes a reference to Hurt's decision not to participate in debates that include the third party candidate inferring the Hurt does not want to answer the touch questions about his record that might come from "more conservative" third party candidate.  Both of Hurt's former opponents have blasted Perriello for the ad and have long ago endorsed Hurt.

Recent polls indicate the race may have tightened so such a stunt if successful might help Perriello keep his seat.

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