As previously reported, Georgia Libertarian US Senate candidate Allen Buckley may swing the race into a runoff, which could in turn turn the Senate filibuster-proof after a special election in December. Now, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that this is leading to some very dirty and possibly dishonest campaigning:
What makes the memo potentially incendiary is not the numbers, but the narrative that follows:
“Based on the results of our Hyper-Local polling combined with the intelligence gathered from the media sweep, we believe the runoff is unavoidable,” the memo states. “Our gravest concern is that in the post-election runoff environment, the democratic opponent will emerge as ‘the reasonable choice’. That combined with what is certain to be a monumental democratic ‘get out the vote’ campaign in the wake of an Obama victory spells real trouble for the client.
“Steve, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss your client’s situation with KR. He is as alarmed as we are due to the implications on the national scene. As you are no doubt aware, your client’s seat might well be number 60 if we can’t turn this thing around. “To avoid this messy situation, we recommend the following actions:
“Dispatch an action team to conduct the neglected opposition research on the Libertarian candidate. Our operatives will leave no stone unturned. A complete review of his income tax records, marriage records, student records and criminal records as well as detailed financial information must be obtained ASAP.
“Since the Libertarian candidate has utilized AM Talk Radio for the majority of his negative efforts, this would be the venue to launch the client’s counterassault. Radio ads must be prepared detailing some of the Libertarian party’s controversial stands on the issues such as drug law, gay marriage and abortion.
“A major effort must be made in the blogosphere to ridicule the Libertarian candidate from as many sources and directions as possible. Attacks must be made from the right and the left, spurious claims should be made while hiding under the cloak of anonymity the internet affords.
In closing, please have the contract signed and returned with payment in full.” On its website, McLaughlin lists the National Republican Senatorial Committee as a client, and describes Larkin as a former NRSC employee. The committee, chaired by Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, is dedicated to electing and re-electing Republicans to the Senate.
However, McLaughlin says his company has done no work for the committee this election cycle. “This is bizarre,” he said, “a total invention, although somebody clearly went through a lot of trouble.” He said he may refer the matter to law enforcement.
Buckley said he has no idea whether the memo is legitimate, although “I suspected that if I became a threat they would try to dig up some dirt on me.”
“I’m not an angel but there’s nothing in my past I’m worried about.”
“I know from Republicans that a lot of them are getting behind me,” Buckley said. “A lot more would be if they weren’t so worried about the 60-vote thing.”
If he is able to push the race into a runoff, Buckley said, he plans to require Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin to make a signed public commitment of fiscal responsibility in return for his endorsement.
This has already been a strange election season. But come Nov. 5, it would become stranger still should a Georgia Libertarian become kingmaker of the U.S. Senate, his influence critical in determining whether Democrats make it to 60 seats.