Nostalgia for the onslaught that was the Republican Presidential Primary is starting to set in. Michele Bachmann's claims that Rick Perry's HPV vaccine causes Autism, Tim Pawlenty's catchy "Obamneycare", and Newt's fights to reveal Romney's "pious bologna" are sadly behind us. Do not fret fellow spectators, for we have our very own mudslinging Republican Civil War here in the Republican race for SD-25. The race for Texas Senate between incumbent Jeff Wentworth and challengers Elizabeth Ames Jones and Donna Campbell has featured some of the most bizarre and vicious attacks we have seen during this election cycle. It has been filthy, personal, and positively compelling.
Elizabeth Ames Jones served in the Texas House of Representatives, representing Bexar County from 2000-2004. She would leave the House in '04, when she was appointed by Rick Perry to fill the vacant seat at the head of the Railroad Commission. Dr. Donna Campbell, the self-proclaimed "best-kept secret in Senate District 25," is certainly not a stranger to supporters of Congressman Lloyd Doggett. Campbell garnered an impressive 45 percent of the vote against the popular progressive Congressman in his successful reelection bid in 2010. She has all the Conservative credentials that the firebrands of the Republican Party drool over, including a staunch pro-life record, adamant opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and all the small government rhetoric the GOP faithful demand. In an attempt to get through the noise of her opponents attack ads, she is playing up a grassroots perception to make up for her fundraising disadvantage. However, breaking through the barrage of laughable attack ads and vindictive lawsuits is proving as difficult as Jon Huntsman's futile attempts to be heard through Perry's "oops", Herman Cain's juvenile arithmetic, and Romney's state-by-state smear campaigns.
Jones, and to a lesser extent Campbell, are fighting to paint Wentworth as a big government, abortion- loving, tax-raising liberal, only interested in his next political opportunity. Wentworth is indeed proudly pro choice, arguing that "hairy-legged males who will never be pregnant" do not have the right to make laws about a woman's healthcare choices. Although it is unclear how Senator Wentworth's leg hair is relevant, his rational position on abortion makes him a target of the far right each election cycle.
The incumbent is not taking these accusations lightly, emptying the war chest to slam Jones on the airwaves. Wentworth has overtly challenged Jones' citizenship in the district (in case you needed a birther controversy to whet your appetite.) Wentworth has by no stretch taken the high road in responding to his opponent's criticisms. He has released a biting ad questioning if Jones is merely a puppet of her lobbyist husband and other special interest groups contributing to her campaign. Wentworth's odd and truly slimy puppet ad alludes to Jones' prized endorsement by Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), who has become a major player in Republican politics. TLR has contributed to those whom they consider allies in their efforts for significant tort reform.
Abortion debates, character assassination, and citizenship tests have come to dominate the discussions in this race. But what is a brutal primary battle without a lawsuit against your opponent? Wentworth answered the call and is suing Jones for an ad of hers attacking Wentworth for his work as a lobbyist and claiming that he used tax payer money to fund lavish trips around the country. Jones however is sticking to her guns, defending her ad as completely factual.
As ruthless as these attacks have been, vicious primaries are nothing new. When all the candidates agree on nearly every issue, victory is assured by making the opponent unelectable and unacceptable. With the exception of Campbell's campaign, that is the strategy of this race. It is apparent that whoever emerges from the bloodbath will be the candidate whose attacks best mobilizes opposition to their challenger.
But until that happens, the rest of us should just sit back and enjoy democracy at its ugliest.
Watch the ugliest and most comical ads of the race below the jump.
by Conservative Republicans of Texas
Complete with creepy piano and camera angles seen in MSNBC serial killer documentaries, this ad features all the slander we would expect from this race. Easy to understand why Wentworth retaliated with a defamation lawsuit.
"Liberal Senator Jeff Wentworth"
by Citizen Leader PAC
Wentworth has to be used to being called a pro abortion liberal by his Primary opponents by now. Will Wentworth's abortion stance finally antagonize enough GOP voters to send him packing?
"What Jeff Wentworth Doesn't Want You to Know"
by Elizabeth Ames Jones for Texas Senate
This ad basically comes down to: "Wentworth was a lobbyist. Wentworth was a lobbyist. Did I mention Jeff Wentworth was a lobbyist?" This is one of the ads accusing Wentworth of illegal and crooked activity. We'll have to wait and see if this is seen as self serving libel by Jones or a valid indictment of Wentworth.
by Jeff Wentworth Campaign
Probably the most ridiculous and cheap ad of the race. Accusing a female candidate of being a puppet of her husband can and should be seen for the sexism that it is. As despicable as this ad is, it's hard to not enjoy its absurdity.
Jeff Wentworth 2012 Campaign Ad
by Jeff Wentworth
This ad may cause serious damage to your IQ. The terrible acting and ridiculous dialogue come together to make this as hilariously corny an ad as you will ever see. Also, bragging about the voter ID bill serves as a helpful reminder of why you need to be booted, Senator.