D.C. Memo: Campaigns gird for ‘October surprises’


WASHINGTON — The campaign silly season has begun, with lots of attack ads on TV and the digital universe as well as a lot of mudslinging.

While some of the mud may stick, in a post Trump America, candidates don’t seem to be held to the same standard of conduct that they once were. One thing is certain: In the last weeks of the election, the blitz of radio, television and digital ads will unfairly distort many candidates’ records and character — often the most competitive.

Another truth is also true. Attack ads are fuelled by “October surprises” and last-minute, damaging revelations regarding a candidate. Some are absurdly false, others are right on the mark, and many fall into a gray area that requires careful examination. This is hard and cannot be done via Twitter.

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walk is one of the candidates who are on the defensive. He is running on a prolife platform and is pleading redemption after The Daily Beast reported that Walker urged his ex-girlfriend, and mother to one of his children, to have an abortion.

Walker refutes the allegations. However, something of this magnitude would have put Walker in serious trouble once. The GOP is losing ground to Walker in large part due to the fight for control over the 50-50 U.S. Senate.

In Pennsylvania, the race for the Senate is also hotly contested by rival allegations. John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate, is criticizing Mehmet Oz, the GOP opponent, after a report that Oz (a cardiologist) was responsible in part for the deaths hundreds of puppies who were used in medical experiments.

Oz demanded that Fetterman provide his medical records in order to prove he does not need a transplant after a near fatal stroke the Democrat suffered on May 5.

Locally, a progressive veterans group took issue with Republican Tyler Kistner who is in a matchup with Rep. Angie Craig (D-2 nd district). Vote Vets claimed that an ad by the Congressional Leadership Fund (a political action committee associated to Kevin McCarthy) that stated Kistner had “four combat deployments” was misleading.

Kister’s campaign claimed that Kister “led three combat operations overseas.” The Congressional Leadership Fund has changed the ad.

Kistner’s campaign had scheduled a Wednesday press conference at the Capitol with David Hann, Minnesota GOP chair. This was to announce the results of some kind of “investigation” into Craig. Paula Overby, Legal Marijuana Now, announced the sudden death of a third candidate in this race.

It is difficult and possibly impossible to predict how Overby’s sudden death will affect the race between Craig and Kistner. Overby will still be on the ballot, in an unsettling repeat of the situation in which Craig and Kistner met for the first time in 2020.

Adam Weeks, Legal Marijuana Now candidate, also died in that election. Weeks was still on the ballot and received 6% of that vote. Craig won the race by just 2% over Kistner.

Phillips takes on PACs

There are many types of political actions committees. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-3 District), doesn’t like any one of them.

The Internal Revenue Service regulates some federal PACs and is responsible for the third-party attack ads flooding the airwaves. These super PACs have unlimited money raising and spending power.

Other federal PACs may give directly to candidates. They are regulated and restricted to $5,000 per race by the Federal Elections Committee.

Phillips has not accepted any money from these PACs, and has co-authored a bill with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), that would ban them.

Phillips stated that one of the best ways to restore faith in government is to decrease the influence of big money and give power back to the people. The No PAC Act will ensure that politicians respond more to constituents than their political donors.

Only a few weeks remain in the current congressional term, so it’s a challenge to get any legislation approved. The bigger problem is likely to win enough support for the anti PAC bill. Political action committees favor incumbents, and Phillips’ coworkers — from both sides of the aisle – are reluctant to give up this advantage.

Supremes are back

This week saw the start of the Supreme Court’s latest session, which will see the justices decide a number of contentious cases.

One case that challenges affirmative action programs at Harvard University and University of North Carolina is on the docket. This case will have a major impact on all colleges and universities. This case, like Roe, will be based on precedent. The Supreme Court has ruled race may be considered when college admissions are made.

A new challenge to a provision in the Voting Rights Act also involves race. The court has overturned key provisions of the 1965 landmark law since 2013. This week, the court will hear a case in which Alabama is accused of engaging in racial manipulation to limit African American voters’ influence.

There is also a challenge to 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. A group of white adoptive parents from Texas, along with a couple from the Twin Cities, are challenging the law. The law requires that Indian children be adopted or fostered in Indian homes and institutions if it is possible.

Another case is on the docket. It challenges civil rights laws that require businesses to not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or gender when offering their goods and/or services to the public. Lorie Smith, a Colorado web designer, has challenged the civil right laws. She doesn’t want her designs to be made for gay couples because it would violate her religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court will also examine the rights of state courts to decide on the legitimacy redistricting maps that have been created by state legislatures.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newest member of the high court, was sworn into this week. She immediately joined the fray in a dispute over the authority of federal agencies to regulate land use in order to prevent water pollution.

The court maintains a 5-3 conservative majority. Another stormy session is anticipated.

GOP legislators seek to end travel restrictions

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-6 th District), led the Minnesota GOP House members who wrote to President Joe Biden asking for an end of COVID-19 border restrictions on travelers from Canada.

“As you all know, the Government of Canada lifted all COVID-related travel restrictions effective October 1,,” the letter stated.” This means that travelers entering Canada no longer have to show proof of vaccination or undergo pre- or post-arrival testing or quarantine if they suspect they may have come into contact with the COVID-19 viruses. Our government should do the same.”

Biden was also reminded in the letter that he had recently stated “the pandemic has ended.” Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor, said that Biden was making an argument that the United States was at a different point in the pandemic. However, the president’s next words were that “we still have problems with COVID.”

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