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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Whither Travis Childers?

Speaking of Greg Davis' invisibility, what about his opponent? Well, Rep. Childers is back from Washington and using the five-week break to hear from his constiuents. According to the D-J, Childers will be visiting each of his district's 24 counties during the recess:
Childers' first stops included Itawamba and Lee counties, where the newly elected congressman visited with officials and introduced some of his staff.

"I want to work with you folks," Childers told the Lee County Board of Supervisors on Monday morning. "I want to help Lee County and Tupelo and the other municipalities here."

Childers said he wants to reach out to each county and let both leaders and residents know that he and his staff are available to hear comments and answer questions.

When asked about the biggest concern voiced so far by constituents in his north Mississippi district, Childers said "fuel prices." The Booneville native vowed to continue fighting for lower prices at the pump but said a negative campaign run by conservative-aligned independent group Freedoms Watch has been claiming the opposite.

The nonprofit, lobbying organization last month ran TV ads and made phone calls accusing Childers and other Democrats of doing nothing to lower oil prices.

"It was petty politics," Childers said. "And I'm offended they'd insult north Mississipipians with that."
I was talking with someone the other day, and the ridiculously annoying Freedom's Watch robocalls came up. I commented that it seemed like they started before the special election in May and never stopped.

There has been a lull in the last few weeks, though, and I saw recently that Freedom's Watch has plunked a good bit of change into House races across the country:
Freedom’s Watch, the conservative advocacy organization heavily funded by Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is hitting the airwaves with a television and radio ad buy targeting Democratic House candidates across the country.

It is Freedom Watch’s single largest advertising purchase since the organization aired ads earlier this year in a Mississippi special election, according to a source familiar with the buy. The size of the buy is in the mid-six figures.

The ads take aim at Democratic incumbents, challengers, and open seat candidates. Ads airing on broadcast television are targeting U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) while ads on cable stations are taking aim at U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas).

Radio ads, meanwhile, are targeting Michigan 7th Congressional District candidate Mark Schauer, Ohio 15th Congressional District candidate Mary Jo Kilroy, Idaho 1st Congressional District Candidate Walt Minnick, Missouri 6th Congressional District candidate Kay Barnes, New York 29th Congressional District candidate Eric Massa, New Mexico 1st Congressional District candidate Martin Heinrich, Ohio 16th Congressional District candidate John Boccieri, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), U.S. Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.) and U.S. Rep. Don Cazayoux (D-La.).
Hmmm. I notice there's a race missing from that buy. Could it be that Freedom's Watch has decided there's little to gain in MS-01 this cycle? My guess is the calls will heat back up again, regardless. And probably ads, closer to the election. They're funded out the wazoo, you know:
Democrats fired back against the ads.

“National Republicans have spent years stuffing their pockets with Big Oil money and then thanking Big Oil by blocking Democratic efforts to lower gas prices and make America energy independent. So it’s not surprising that Republicans are outsourcing their false attacks to a shadowy soft money group like Freedom's Watch which won't even reveal whether Big Oil has joined casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in funding them," said Doug Thornell, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

That Freedom’s Watch is investing in House races is surely welcome news for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The beleaguered GOP House campaign arm trails its Democratic counterpart in fundraising by a steep seven-to-one ratio.
And you know, speaking of Freedom's Watch, I wonder how Mr. Campaign Finance Reform himself feels about such "shadowy soft money groups" working so hard to influence the democratic process. I remember a time when this (campaign finance reform) was John McCain's issue (having been clubbed in the alley by the Bush team and its own shadowy groups in South Carolina back in 2000). Of course, he's a changed man now.

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