In the final week of September, Republican candidates across the nation saw their personal lives take center stage in their campaigns -- including in the race for Michigan's 1st Congressional District seat, held by retiring Democrat Bart Stupak.
In California, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign was "rocked" by allegations that her long-time housekeeper was in the United States illegally, according to the Huffington Post. In Delaware, Republican Christine O'Donnell's education claims are under attack, according to a September 30, 2010 piece posted to Salon's War Room.
In the Michigan 1st, Republican Dan Benishek's 20-year-old divorce proceedings became the latest bad news buffet. The Michigan Messenger broke the story on September 27th that the Republican had "underestimated his income by $100,000 during legal arguments over child support with his ex-wife."
In response to the Michigan Messenger's story, Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, held a teleconference during which it was reported that he urged media outlets to dig deeper into Benishek's finances. Brewer told reporters, "This troubling news goes to the core of who Dan Benishek is and raises serious questions about his character and his ability to represent the people of northern Michigan."
The Michigan Messenger story broke about a week after the release of the DCCC's latest attack ad, "23 percent," was released in northern Michigan. With its media buys in House races nationally, the DCCC is hitting hard on social security and taxes--its media buys in the Michigan 1st are no exception.
On September 30, 2010, the Benishek campaign released a statement in which Benishek's lawyer, attorney Charlie Spies, calls on northern Michigan television stations to remove the DCCC's latest attack ad because it is "deliberately misleading," according to the statement. It was subsequently reported that, "Benishek has also threatened to sue the Democratic National Congressional Committee if it doesn't pull an ad targeting the GOP nominee for his support of the Fair Tax as a '23 percent increase in taxes.'" The allegedly "deliberately misleading" DCCC ad appears below:
According to Charlie Spies, his client, Dan Benishek, "did not contact the DCCC directly about the attack ad," and of the four television stations contacted in writing, none has responded to the candidate's request to remove the ad. Gabby Adler, a Regional Press Secretary for the DCCC, responded to questions about the veracity of the ad by reiterating that, "the DCCC absolutely stands by the content of the ad."