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"Brutal attack ads" surface days before Election Day

Oct 24, 2014

We are now a week and a half away from Election Day and this is the breakout time in any campaign season. The closing days when candidates and campaigns make their final pitches to try and close the deal with voters.

Although a lot of voters have already voted. As many as a third of the ballots in Election 2014 will be absentee ballots filled out before November 4th actually arrives.

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Closing Arguments Coming Earlier

And that means as many as a third of Michigan voters have already made up their minds and won’t wait for November and the campaigns’ closing arguments. The fact that so many voters now use absentee ballots has pushed up the late-campaign attack ads; the ones that are really jarring.

Bobby McKenzie, Democrat running in Michigan’s 11th Congressional district, recently released an ad attacking his Republican opponent David Trott. It’s an ad that The Washington Post called “one of the most brutal attack ads you’ll even see.”

The ad is jarring; shocking even. It shows an elderly woman, frightened and crying as men in black shirts and stocking caps push her wheelchair out of her home and to the curb. It’s an effort to shake up a race that appears, right now, to be Trott’s to lose.

But Democrats think Trott could be vulnerable because his personal fortune is built on the home foreclosure business. It’s what his law firm does.  He owns a lot of foreclosure related businesses. Democrats have even tried to get the nickname “Foreclosure King” to stick.

The Cook Political Report has the 11th as an R+4 District. That means the Republican candidate walks into the race with an automatic four-point advantage.

But, that is not necessarily deterring Dems. They think they might get a little help from the district’s current Republican Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, sometimes known as the “Accidental Congressman.”

Bentivolio lost to Trott in the Republican primary in August and has since decided to run a write-in campaign. Bentivolio has zero chance of winning, but he could siphon votes from Trott.

GOP, Dems Fight Over Money, Resources

McKenzie, however, is also in another race: a race against his fellow Democrats for resources, money, volunteers and independent committee support.

In these final days before November 4th, campaigns are making their cases to the big funders - the people and institutions that write the big campaign checks.

Campaigns are trying to make the case that those dollars and resources are best spent on their campaigns.

There are a lot of frustrated campaigns and candidates who think a victory is well within their grasp - if only they could get some back-up.

This is playing out not just in the 11th Congressional district but in Michigan’s 1st Congressional district in northern Michigan; a district which, on paper, should be competitive.

Democrat Jerry Cannon, a retired Army Guard general and former Kalkaska County Sheriff, is running against incumbent Republican Congressman Dan Benishek.

An independent spending group is also trying to cause Republican Congressman Fred Upton some heartburn in southwest Michigan’s 6th district.

Fight for State House, Senate

There are also four or five competitive state Senate races. Democrats will almost certainly not win control of the Michigan Senate this year, but they have to do well in this cycle if they’re going to harbor any real hopes of a takeover in four years.

State House control is somewhat more attainable for the Dems. That means there is also a fierce competition among Republican and Democrats who are competing with colleagues for resources. Look for that money to go first and primarily toward protecting incumbents.

The funders (the backroom people who are making the decisions) face tough choices with limited resources -- not just who can win, but who among that group is most likely to win. And, to be sure, there will be some unhappy folks come Wednesday, November 5th.