Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

A Mud Slinging Contest in Florida’s 18th Congressional District

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For many Republican House members across the country, stakes are high this election season as Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to win back the majority.   This is especially true in Florida’s 18th Congressional District where freshman Tea Party Favorite, Allen West, has ensued in a bitter battle with his challenger, Democrat Patrick Murphy.

The mud is flying between these two as both have aired multiple attack ads and embarked on major smear campaigns in order to discredit the other.  From the Murphy campaign there have been attempts to paint West as an “out of touch politician” who doesn’t care about the 99%.  Murphy has also made statements discrediting Rep. West’s military career and calling question to his reason for resignation from the armed services.

On the other hand, the West campaign has set out to peg the twenty-nine year old Murphy as a spoiled rich kid born with a silver spoon in mouth.  They have called attention to his prep-school upbringing, his role in his family business, and his father’s significant contributions to his campaign and relevant interest groups.

Back in August, The American Sunrise PAC, a pro-Murphy PAC that was both founded and has been heavily funded by Murphy’s father, aired an ad that many believe to have been one of the dirtiest of the election season.  It depicted Allen West wearing boxing gloved punching a white elderly woman in the face and stealing money from a black-middle class family.  West, who is African American, responded to the ad calling it “reprehensible” while many others questioned its racial undertones.  Although the Murphy campaign ultimately pulled the ad from television due to its largely negative response, you can watch it here.

The Murphy campaign is not the only one “playing dirty,” however.  Last week, after reports that the democratic challenger had taken the lead over the incumbent, Allen West released a new attack ad that featured a 2003 mug shot of his opponent.
The thirty-second spot is a military motif that compares what Murphy and West were doing on that night in 2003.  While the 20 year-old Murphy was being arrested for a drunken brawl outside of a Miami nightclub, Allen West was serving on a military base in Texas.  The ad ends with the narrator saying “two men, a country in crisis, you decide,” as it shows an image of West in a suit compared to Murphy’s mug shot.  You can watch the rest of this ad here.

The implications of this attack ad cannot be fully understood just yet as it has only been on the air for a few days.  It’s likely that this wont do much to affect the race, as we have seen similar attacks aired before not make much difference.  In fact, they typically result in bad press for the attacker as well as the subject of the attack. However, with the November elections closing in on both candidates, it’s likely that the attacks will continue. After all, isn’t politics these days really just about image anyway?


One thought on “A Mud Slinging Contest in Florida’s 18th Congressional District

  1. Pingback: Florida’s 18th District: Home of the Ugliest Political Race in America « Destination 270

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