Independent Gov. Bill Walker’s withdrawal leaves Alaska a two-way governor’s race

This article originally appeared in The Dailey Kos. Read it in its entirety here.

Republican Rep. Mia Love does not seem to standing up well to the rigors of a competitive campaign. In a Thursday radio appearance, Love rather comically demanded that her Democratic opponent, Ben McAdams drop out of the race because he’d been “unethical” in attacking her over a campaign finance scandal. It’s a perfect bit of projection, naturally, because the only person who’s behaved unethically is Love.

Federal law allows donors to give up to $2,700 to congressional candidates for every election they face: once each for a convention, a primary, and a general election. That allows campaigns to double-dip, or in the case of states like Utah that hold conventions as well as primaries, triple-dip. Love dutifully raised money for all three, including almost $1.2 million earmarked for the primary.

The problem is, there was no Republican primary the 4th District because Love was nominated without opposition at the GOP convention on April 21. Love had thus raised money for an election that never took place—a major no-no—and even continued to do so after securing the Republican nomination. After getting busted by the FEC last month, Love said she’d “redesignate” some $370,000 in funds but would only refund $10,000.

Both in TV ads and on the campaign trail, McAdams and his allies sharply criticized Love for taking $1 million in improper contributions, which evidently got under Love’s skin. At the candidates’ lone debate on Monday, Love declared she’d been cleared by the FEC and urged reporters to contact the agency, which she said would “corroborate” her claims. But in a very embarrassing turn of events, the FEC refused to commentwhen contacted the next day.

Finally, on Thursday, Love’s campaign produced an email from an FEC attorney saying Love was “not required to take any corrective action” regarding the donations for the non-existent primary campaign she ran, citing a precedent from two years earlier regarding Sen. Mike Lee. That prompted Love to lash out at McAdams and insist he quit the race, which, needless to say, McAdams isn’t going to do.

Democrats responded by saying that the FEC’s email doesn’t actually clear Love, noting that it only pertains to contributions received up through the April 21 primary and not to the money she raised for the “primary” after that date. And the Alliance for a Better Utah, a progressive group that filed a formal FEC complaint against Love in September, says their complaint remains unresolved.

So we can expect Democrats to keep up the pressure on Love, particularly since both the DCCC and Patriot Majority, a top Democratic super PAC, recently began investing in this race. That new involvement followed closely behind a decision by the Congressional Leadership Fund to plunk down $1 million to prop up Love, a move buttressed by recent polls that show the contest narrowing to a dead-even tie.

To see a race in an extremely red district like this one grow tighter rather than further apart as we approach Election Day is unusual, but it speaks to McAdams’ unusual strength as a candidate, and Love’s weakness. This one looks like it’s for real, so we’re changing our rating from Lean Republican to Tossup.

This article originally appeared in The Dailey Kos. Read it in its entirety here.

 

 

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