Republican Rep. Allen West’s campaign in Florida, against Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy, looks like it could be in the running for the dirtiest House race of the cycle.
West moved to a nearby district after the one to which he was elected in 2010 became more Democratic in redistricting. And then Murphy himself, who was hoping to run against West in the old district, followed him to the new one. And they’ve brought something to the neighborhood: a lot of attack ads.
On Friday, West launched an ad attacking Murphy, a construction and environmental clean-up executive, for being arrested in a drunken bar-fight in 2003. And West’s campaign made sure to splash Murphy’s mugshot on the screen.
“Feb. 16, 2003, Fort Hood, Texas: Lt. Col. Allen West had just received deployment orders, and prepares his men to go to war,” the announcer says. “That night, South Beach, Miami: Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol, and unable to stand. Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer. Patrick Murphy was arrested and taken to jail. Two men, a country in crisis — you decide.”
The ad goes hand-in-hand with much West’s political rhetoric of the last two years. As just a few examples: He compared the Democrats to Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels; referred to President Obama as a “low-level socialist agitator”; sent a letter to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, telling her she has “proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!”; accused Democrats of attacking him because he is a black conservative; and called congressional progressives “members of the Communist Party.”
In response to the new ad, a spokesman for the Murphy campaign told TPM that the Democrat was 19 at the time of his arrest — and contrasted that with the trouble what West himself ended up in at about that same time.
“What Allen West is doing is making a comparison about 2003, when Patrick Murphy was arrested for underage drinking as a teenager,” Murphy spokesman Eric Johnson told TPM. “He then compares it to his military record in the year 2003 — which happens to be the year that he was criminally charged by the military for assault and violating the Uniform Code of Conduct. Of course, he doesn’t mention that. And he later took a deal from the military to resign, rather than face court martial.”
West’s military career ended when he fired a pistol next to the head of an Iraqi policeman during an interrogation, and after first having the officer beaten. West said this was done in order to stop an impending attack on his unit, but no evidence of such a plan was found based on the policeman’s coerced confession.
The incident did, however, help West gain notoriety with conservative activists, and to launch a political career that ultimately saw him elected to Congress in the 2010 Republican landslide.
In 2012, the campaign has been seemingly non-stop attacks.
In August, a super-PAC that is funded by Murphy’s father launched an ad caricaturing West as a cartoonish boxer — punching out seniors and women, and grabbing money from a middle-class black family.
West, and conservative media, widely claimed that the ad was racist — alleging that the twinkle at the beginning was supposed to be a gold tooth: “I think that that is quite stereotypical. And then of course having me as an African-American male, punching a white senior woman and then another white woman, that is definitely not in concert with the values that I stand for.”
Murphy himself then released an ad featuring young children, reciting West’s various insults: “You are not a lady,” “communist,” and “you’re a threat to the gene pool.”
“Allen West said all these things, and worse,” Murphy says. “But bullying and name calling has (sic) no place on the playground, or in Congress.”
Murphy also attacked West on women’s issues — using video of West denouncing “all of these women that have been neutering American men, and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness.”
And for his part, West has had some messy ads of his own. During the Democratic National Convention, he was quickly out of the gate with a spot attacking delegates who loudly voted no on recognizing the word “God” in the party’s official platform.
“Three times they said no to God,” the on-screen text said. “That’s Patrick Murphy’s party. Are those your values?”
Another ad accused Murphy’s family of improperly profiting from the stimulus:
And this ad went further by attacking the Murphy family’s “shocking” involvement in a project in which Mexican immigrants were hired — causing untold, tear-filled misery to Americans:
The Murphy campaign responded with this ad, saying the Democrat fired subcontractors who outsourced, and that West is the true protector of companies sending jobs overseas: “Allen West — we can’t trust anything he says.”