Not necessarily in that order.
We start off in Arizona's 1st Congressional district, where Republican Rick Renzi faces challenger Democrat Ellen Simon. The R thing is not a mistake, folks - he is married to a woman named Roberta and twelve of his children have "R" names. (I didn't even know there were 12 R names.) But he gets on my "jackass" list for a TV attack ad he ran against his opponent accusing her of being - gasp! - an ACLU member. I was kind of half watching in a groggy just-waking-up state while in Tempe, so I'm not sure exactly what he said and a quick online search doesn't turn up any video of the ad. But he made being an ACLU member sound like an action slightly worse than selling your soul to the devil. (Simon led the Cleveland, OH chapter of the ACLU for a time.)
What's even more frustrating is that in my brief foray into the Renzi-Simon blogosphere, one of the commenters trashing Simon says that Simon is a "freedom destroying commie type." Because we all know that the best way to destroy freedom is to dedicate yourself to an organization whose sole aim is the preservation of freedom. Incidentally, this is probably the nastiest Congressional race I've come across, with both candidates accusing each other of having the approximate moral fiber of a jelly doughnut.
I would rant about this, but that has already been done to perfection, so I'll just quote: "For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren't you, Bob? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: Why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?" For that matter, why would Rick Renzi and so much of the American right choose to reject upholding the Constitution? I seriously have to physically restrain myself when someone badmouths the ACLU. You may not agree with everything they do, but you can't take someone who spends their time protecting your Constitutional rights and call them un-American.
Renzi may be an ass, but he might not even be the biggest douchebag in his state. For that, we move to Scottsdale, where Congressman J.D. Hayworth (watch out - the web page talks) is running against former Tempe mayor Harry Mitchell.
Caution: what follows hasn’t been verified by a mainstream news source, so beware – this may be one of those blogosphere rumors.
Update: The Arizona Republic confirms, at least in part.
Two of Hayworth's staffers suffered a severe meltdown (from the deliciously snarky Wonkette) at a Jewish synagogue in Scottsdale, apparently lecturing the crowd for several minutes and calling Hayworth - a conservative Christian - a "more observant Jew" than everyone there. When that comment was met with predictable derision, a staffer commented: "No wonder there are anti-Semites." The speakers, Jonathan and Irit Tratt, were Jewish - as some folks at The American Prospect point out, Irit is a modern Hebrew name. (Best comment on that string: "Jesus was a Jew? Then how come he's got a Mexican name?")
This is probably the biggest "what the fuck" campaign moment in recent memory (narrowly edging out Macacagate). I have two possible explanations:
1) Jonathan and Irit Tratt are modern-day Isaiahs. Sick of what they see as the empty rituals of modern Judaism, the Tratts have begun exhorting their fellow Jews to live their lives morally and not just follow the laws for the sake of their laws. Thus, saying that Hayworth was "more observant" is a comment about morality - i.e. that Hayworth's morality is closer to what God wants from the Chosen People than is the perceived moral emptiness of the Scottsdale Jewish community.
2) Jonathan and Irit Tratt are morons.
Given that their boss gone on the record as supporting Henry Ford's "Americanization" plan - an immigrant assimilation plan so brilliant that it was praised by Hitler - and given that the “no wonder there are anti-Semites” comment doesn’t get covered by option 1, I'm going to go way out on a limb and assume the latter.
Update: The Republic article states that the comments were made in the context of abortion, lending a little bit of credence to option 1. Interestingly, Jewish law has traditionally allowed abortion until the 40th day (when it is assumed that the heart starts beating). Still, it’s kind of dumb to call a proud Baptist a better Jew than actual Jews.
Here's another account of the event that supports option 2. This account makes it seem like the Tratts are an Israel-obsessed couple who tried to slam Mitchell for - shocking! - associating with the A-rabs. (Guess that makes me a "fake Jew" since I talk to my Palestinian and Jordanian neighbors.)
I really wish someone had got this on tape since it would make for excellent television.
Note: I've slammed Hayworth on this blog before for his hawkish anti-immigrant stances. Sadly, Mitchell isn't much better in that regard.
For sheer dipshittery, it's tough to beat this one: Kansas Senator Sam Brownback - one of the many decrying Democrats' "obstructionist" tactics on judges - has put a hold on one of Bush's judicial nominees for a court in Michigan. His excuse? She hangs out with lesbians. Dear Kansas: Your elected officials already tried enforcing this "intelligent design" crap. Now this. Please stop electing idiots - you're embarrassing yourselves. At least you had the good sense to elect Kathleen Sebelius as your governor.
In the even-more-WTF department, Nevada Rep. Jim Gibbons is involved in one of the most bizarre scandals I've ever heard of (two Wonkette links here). Gibbons is running for Governor and had his race won... until he either groped a cocktail waitress or helped her stand up while she was drunk. Gibbons was obliterated as well. He was also with several women who were not his wife at the time.
Foley's Follies. Macacagate. The Great Scottsdale Staffer Meltdown. What Happened in Vegas. There are usually scandals in an election cycle, but damn, there have been some frickin' hilarious ones this year. Jon Stewart must be shitting his pants right now.
And finally, the award for "best negative advertisement" goes to this mailer from New Hampshire Congressional candidate Paul Hodes attacking his opponent, incumbent Charlie Bass. This is the kind of brilliant idea that could only have arrived in the heads of the campaign staff at about 1 A.M. after several beers. Anyone whose campaign can pun that prolifically gets my vote.
(The campaign I'm working on is running against a guy named Dollar. Sadly, we have yet to take advantage of the numerous pun possibilities that lie therein.)