La. Senate race turns ugly

Aug 13th, 2010 | By politicsnews | Category: Politics

Graphic photos of abuse and menacing illegal immigrants aren’t typical fodder for campaign ads. But in Louisiana’s increasingly nasty Senate race, they’re now all across the airwaves.

Both Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon and incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter are up with new negative ads this week, teeing off an ad war that is likely to only get uglier in the lead-up to November.

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Melancon’s newest ad, “The Worst,” highlights Vitter’s personal scandals and slams him for his positions on women’s issues such as equal pay and coverage for mammograms.

“We know how David Vitter handled his ‘serious sin,’” the ad says, referring to a phrase in Vitter’s 2007 apology for his involvement with a D.C.-area prostitution ring. “And when Vitter’s staffer violently abused his girlfriend, Sen. Vitter let him keep his job, working on women’s issues.”

The ad shows photos of the stab wounds the woman received from her ex-boyfriend, former Vitter aide Brent Furer.

John Anzalone, whose firm does polling work for Melancon, said the campaign is merely raising issues that voters are already concerned about.

“Everyone knows about [Vitter’s] problems with prostitutes, and everyone has an opinion on it,” he said. “But what this ad brings home is, his personal behavior is one thing, but when he keeps a staffer on that’s clearly had abuse problems, that’s everyone’s problem.”

But Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the ad is “pure desperation” on the part of Melancon — who said just last month that he would not make Vitter’s prostitution scandal part of the campaign.

“He’s running in a red state with a record of having voted with Nancy Pelosi 90 percent of the time,” Walsh said. “He is clearly prepared to do or say anything to distract voters from that record.”

But Vitter’s ad, “Parallel Universe,” brings that voting record front and center, using jarring images of frustrated workers, sneering millionaires and workers who appear to be Latino with intimidating looks on their faces.

When Louisiana voters “just can’t work any harder,” the ad says, Melancon voted for the Wall Street bailout and funding for illegal immigrants and used taxpayer money to buy an expensive SUV for himself.

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