UPDATED: Incredibly Close Vote; DeMaio Leads Wednesday AM By 752 Votes
SAN DIEGO: There’s a hot race on here to represent much of the home of naval aviation. Scott Peters, the incumbent Democrat from the 52nd district, faces a rare bird, an openly gay Republican — Carl DeMaio — who appears to have pledged his troth to the Tea Party.
The races is so close that the latest polls put a statistically meaningless single digit between the two battlers.
It’s a pretty ugly race, especially for a district where the incumbent has only been in office for one term. A former campaign worker accused DeMaio of sexual harassment. Here’s how the LA Times described it:
“A 28-year-old former campaign worker said he told police in June that DeMaio touched him inappropriately, masturbated in front of him and then offered him $50,000 to keep quiet.
“DeMaio, speaking at a news conference, accused the ex-campaign worker of fabricating the allegations after he was fired for plagiarism, and claimed that the ex-worker is a prime suspect in a break-in at the campaign office.” It’s the second time DeMaio has been accused by a politico of acting in an unorthodox manner in a bathroom but no official action was taken then.
Enormous quantities of cash have been spent by the campaigns, one of the few House races in the country that offers clear ideological differences between two candidates with a real chance of winning. In its latest tally, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that the two campaigns have raised almost $7 million and outside groups are pouring money in, and we don’t know how much they’ve spent with any fidelity.
But the race is more complicated than simply Tea Party (DeMaio denies ties to the Tea Party but a video of him at a rally seems to make the point pretty convincingly that he wants the support of the faction, at least) vs. Liberals or gay vs. straight or GOP vs. Dem, for that matter. When Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS political action committee ran an ad in August slamming Peters, DeMaio actually condemned it, saying he didn’t know about the ad beforehand and wished “these national groups on both sides would go away.”
Peters, under fire by national Republican organizations and the DeMaio campaign for being that most dreaded of creatures, a “liberal” Democrat, is running an affecting ad quoting a veteran who needed help with the Veterans Administration (don’t they all?) in a clear effort to appeal to the district’s large retired military population and help blunt charges he’s too liberal. The vet quoted in the ad says he’s a Republican.
Peters is a very junior member of the House Armed Services Committee (between seniority and GOP control of the committee that means he’s virtually invisible) but he represents a substantial portion of the naval community and sits on Rep. Randy Forbes’ HASC seapower and power projection subcommittee.
Local TV stations are reporting that voter turnout may be the lowest in 30 years. There’s been little mention of local get out the vote efforts, but both parties know this is the key to winning in this election marked by public disgust with everyone the American people have elected to represent them in the last few years. Votes held between presidential elections typically boast low turnout and the sitting president’s party typically fares badly.