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Copy of Patriot Majority USA mailer attacking Republicans Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur in NJ-03.
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The pro-Democratic super PAC Patriot Majority USA is up to something in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District, and it certainly smells like a ratfuck. They're spending $110,000 on a combination of mail and TV attacking both candidates in Tuesday's GOP primary, Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur. However, Democrat Aimee Belgard would much rather face the former rather than the latter in the general election for this swingy open seat, given Lonegan's reputation as a mega-crazy nutter. (If you're unlucky, you might remember him from his race against Cory Booker last year.) So what's going on?

The key is the different messaging aimed at each Republican. In a mailer obtained by the Newark Star-Ledger (shown above), PMUSA slams MacArthur as a politician who "raised taxes and increased spending EVERY SINGLE YEAR" he served on the Randolph Township Council—the sort of hit Republicans frequently use against one another in primaries.

The argument against Lonegan, on the other hand, is very reminiscent of the tactics Claire McCaskill used to boost Todd Akin. Indeed, the very same flyer also complains that "conservative Steve Lonegan is just too extreme for New Jersey" and accuses him of wanting to eliminate the Department of Education and defund Planned Parenthood. These, of course, are the kinds of things that GOP primary voters actually like!

Unfortunately, we don't have copies of the TV ads, but the folks at PolitickerNJ have seen them, and they're structured along similar lines, with MacArthur again getting attacked as a tax hiker. The Lonegan spot, though, goes even further, criticizing him for opposing federal disaster aid and saying that New Jerseyans should "suck it up" after Hurricane Sandy. While ultra-conservatives often loathe disaster relief when it goes to folks other than themselves, is Lonegan really a hero to the base for dumping on his own state after a major tragedy?

In any event, PMUSA definitely isn't copping to a ratfuck—no one ever does, publicly. That's always both the smart and necessary move, since you never want to give folks on the other side even more ammunition to accuse you of meddling. Of course, MacArthur's campaign is already doing just that, claiming "Republican primary voters are going to see through it," but we'll know next week whether or not this worked.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue May 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If pro-Democratic PMUSA is making the (0+ / 0-)
    smart and necessary move
    why are you exposing them? (I'm only curious and intend no disrespect here.)

    Dance lightly upon the Earth, Sing her songs with wild abandon, Smile upon all forms of Life ...and be well.

    by LinSea on Tue May 27, 2014 at 12:59:52 PM PDT

  •  Duck Dynasty star to speak at GOP mtg in NOLA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson will be a featured speaker at the national GOP's Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans from Thurs., May 29 - Sunday, May 31, 2014.

    Robertson will join other speakers LA Gov Bobby Jindal, LA GOP Sen (and 2015 LA Gov candidate (and longtime career prostitute "john") David Vitter, Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, Texas Sen Ted Cruz, Texas Gov Rick Perry, MN Rep Michele Bachmann (someone should tell her Robertson doesn't like her husband), Virginian (and former PA Senator) Rick Santorum, serial bankruptcy filer Donald Trump.  Sean Hannity will be live broadcasting from the event.

    Article is in today's New Orleans Times-Picayune,

  •  And it's happening in my district. (0+ / 0-)

    “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” -The Doctor

    by KingofSpades on Tue May 27, 2014 at 04:31:41 PM PDT

  •  You lose nothing by giving it a go. Im all for it. (5+ / 0-)
  •  Boo! to us, then (4+ / 0-)

    We aren't us when we become them.

    Donald Segretti lives, it seems.

    Besides which, there are much easier ways to swing things as the Democratic Party.
    1. "We are looking forward to the upcoming campaign against Lonegan" will set fire to McArthur's base and get Lonegan called a liberal.
    2. "We find many things hopeful about Mr. McArthur's stances" will doom him.

    Let their own paranoia do our work.

    "man, proud man,/ Drest in a little brief authority,. . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/ As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,/ Would all themselves laugh mortal." -- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure II ii, 117-23

    by The Geogre on Wed May 28, 2014 at 05:37:39 PM PDT

    •  ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indres, betelgeux
      Boo! to us, then
      And then you describe two examples of the exact same tactic? Come on now.
      •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

        There is a difference between allowing their worst impulses -- impulses that are anti-democratic and unreasonable -- to move them and
        a) masked sources,
        b) direct mailers,
        c) attack mailers.

        In the past, Republicans have tried the "praise a Democrat to condemn that Democrat" strategy, but it doesn't usually work. We might get queasy or start investigating, but if we praise a Republican, they react on impulse.

        "man, proud man,/ Drest in a little brief authority,. . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/ As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,/ Would all themselves laugh mortal." -- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure II ii, 117-23

        by The Geogre on Thu May 29, 2014 at 04:40:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Okay then. (0+ / 0-)

          The sources aren't masked. Direct mailers? You bet. It's worth the money and isn't illegal. GOPers call up people in majority black districts and claim they'll be arrested if they vote to depress our turnout. So I don't give a single damn how badly we destroy their primaries. The situation in this diary doesn't describe something that's unreasonable or even uncommon, though.

    •  We are not them (0+ / 0-)

      The main difference is policy, not tactics.  Anyways, Democrats here don't appear to be doing any lying, so I don't see what the big deal is if voters are being manipulated with the truth.

    •  Meh. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      METAL TREK, The Geogre

      Us sending a few mailers (with PMUSA clearly named on it no less) still doesn't sink to the level that the GOPers do when messing with Dem primaries.

      How many examples have we seen of them running straw candidates in Dem primaries?  Or sending literature that no one can figure out who it's coming from because it came from a PAC that sprang up for a couple of months and then - poof - vanished so quick you can't even find anything out about them via Google?

      So IMO, no, we certainly don't sink to their level on this front.  Not even close.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Wed May 28, 2014 at 06:36:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're not as bad. . . cold comfort (0+ / 0-)

        Again, the fact that we're not as bad doesn't mean that we're less us when we become them in any way.

        Alvin Greene, of course, but PMUSA isn't quite clear by itself.

        Sure, we're not Republicans. This move doesn't make us the Republican Party. This move is Republican, or Segretti, as I said, and, if we want to do fair play messing-with, we should use the types of tendencies that they have that are already anti-democratic. (Remember when Iran endorsed or preferred a presidential candidate? GOP voters went bananas.)

        I'm not stopping all work for the DP. I'm just saying, "This makes us not us." I saw John Barrow use mystery mailers (or an ally, since it was a mystery group) the week of the primary against his last serious primary opponent. When people say, "X is the best Democrat we'll get from that district," they speak from a distance, and they often are forgiving GOP tactics on the ground as well as GOP views in the House.

        "man, proud man,/ Drest in a little brief authority,. . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/ As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,/ Would all themselves laugh mortal." -- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure II ii, 117-23

        by The Geogre on Thu May 29, 2014 at 04:47:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you that as Democrats (0+ / 0-)

          we need to take the high road as often as possible.

          However, politics is politics, and working to get a weaker opposing party candidate as the winner in a primary is a tale as old as time in politics.

          That's simply how politics works.  And I take no issue with it provided someone can easily find out who you are. which is the case with these mailers.

          The fact that bozo GOP rank and file voters don't understand the phrase "caveat emptor" when it comes to getting their information is most certainly something we can and should use against them.  They're stupid.  They're lazy.  They're reactionary.  They're likely not going to take the time to research the mailer, because they don't research anything else.

          That's their problem.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Thu May 29, 2014 at 02:49:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You mean we're engaging in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Nir, METAL TREK

    rattus concubitus?

    Oh no!!!  Better whip out the smelling salts for someone is sure to clutch their pearls so tightly they'll pass out.  

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Wed May 28, 2014 at 05:41:26 PM PDT

    •  Exactly! And while we're at it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      let's continue to bring knives to gunfights Hey, we could lose & be stuck with even more Teabaggers & their odious policies but at least some people's fee fees won't get hurt!

      A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

      by METAL TREK on Wed May 28, 2014 at 07:15:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hate the term 'Ratfuck' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    because it sounds more evil than it is, necessarily.

    Still, in most cases it is.

    I have a hard time being opposed to this one, though. Using the GOP's own crazy against them? Darn.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed May 28, 2014 at 05:51:26 PM PDT

  •  Steve Lonegan money quote ...... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...... with his I-got-mine attitude (uttered during his losing campaign to Cory Bokker in the open New Jersey Senate race:

    "I'll be as callous and uncaring as you can imagine. I have no interest in paying for your health care. I'd hate to see you get cancer, but that's your problem, not mine".

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Wed May 28, 2014 at 06:11:54 PM PDT

  •  He's Got Who™ on his side (0+ / 0-)

    how can he lose


    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Wed May 28, 2014 at 06:24:23 PM PDT

  •  IA-Sen (0+ / 0-)

    Someone who go to IA to do the same please.

  •  There's nothing wrong (0+ / 0-)

    Defining a potential candidate early using the same arguments that you'll use in the general isn't "meddling". It's reasonable, effective and honest strategy.The sooner you can begin building your narrative the more likely it is to take root.

    Are you contending that anything in the flier was false? If not, then what's the problem?

    Show and don't tell. Demonstrate your point rather than explaining your point. -Rachael Maddow

    by galvarn on Wed May 28, 2014 at 09:59:13 PM PDT

  •  A Real Equivalence (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think we can really complain about Republicans running "false front" candidates in the South when we interfere in their primaries this way in the North.

    Are we really any different than they are?

    by Dana Blankenhorn on Thu May 29, 2014 at 06:14:04 AM PDT

    •  Uh yes. (0+ / 0-)

      They actually try to prevent our voters from voting - At all. They want 10% turnout, I want 100% turnout.  So long as their tactics include trying to prevent our voters from voting, it's morally acceptable to smash and destroy them in every legal way possible.

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