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Why Adam Smith is going negative

If the south Sound incumbent is worried, almsot every Democratic candidate outside the biggest cities in the state has cause for concern.

Congressman Adam Smith is on the air with a standard attack ad against his Republican opponent, Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri. 

This tells you all you need to know about the trouble Democrats find themselves in.

Adam Smith has been re-elected multiple times with well over 60 percent of the vote. Washington's 9th is a Democratic-leaning district. Muri has raised very little money and is not advertising yet on TV, radio, or direct mail. (Partially of his own choosing. Muri is convinced social networking is sufficient to get his message out and hasn’t focused on fundraising.)

And yet Adam Smith is attacking Dick Muri. Congressional campaigns make advertising decisions based on polling data, and incumbents never attack unless the challenger is close.

The ad, by the way, echoes the same themes found in Patty Murray’s ads and Susan DelBene’s ads, that the Republican is “not on our side.” The national Democratic high command must believe this is the message that will work in this pro-GOP atmosphere.

In mid September, SurveyUSA released a poll showing this race surprisingly close. Democrats dismissed it, but the Smith campaign’s actions seem to indicate they think the race is close.

Muri has not done anything to uniquely affect this race. He is benefiting from the generic Republican tide. And if Adam Smith is in trouble, then every Democratic congressional and legislative incumbent outside the city limits of Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane is in danger of losing this year.

We await more polling data, and the ultimate verdict in three weeks.

Chris Vance is a public affairs consultant who lives in Auburn, Wash. He was chair of the Republican Party in Washington from 2001-06, a King County Council member from 1994-2001, and a state representative from 1991-93. He also blogs for Rob McKenna's Smarter Government Washington. He can be reached at cvapv@comcast.net.


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