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September 25, 2008

Keller's re-election bid poised to get ugly

One candidate in Florida’s Eighth District race is a Republican congressman who barely defeated a primary opponent recently found intoxicated on a park bench outside a high school. The Democrat is a deep-pocketed corruption-fighting attorney who has proudly participated in rallies sponsored by the far-left anti-war group Code Pink.

This could get ugly.

From my story in today’s Politico:

After barely eking past scandal-plagued conservative radio host Todd Long in the Republican primary, Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) now is at risk of losing his seat to a deep-pocketed attorney and businessman in an Orlando-area district that trends Democratic.

Keller believes his saving grace is that the Democratic nominee, Alan Grayson, brings to the race a record of being an outspoken anti-war activist that could brand him as too liberal for the district. A 2006 Wall Street Journal profile portrayed Grayson as a fierce opponent of the Iraq war. The story shows him driving a car with the bumper sticker “Bush Lied, People Died.”

But Keller said he would “bet his life” on winning the election because of Grayson’s liberal record and participation in rallies sponsored by the Code Pink anti-war organization. Keller said that he would have more trouble winning if he was facing Charlie Stuart, Grayson’s more conservative Democratic primary opponent.

“Mr. Grayson is an ultra-liberal who opposes (oil) drilling, supports higher taxes and would cut off higher funding for troops in the battlefield,” Keller said. “There is no way in hell my congressional district will vote for a Code Pink-supporting ultra-liberal who would cut off funding for troops. Code Pink is the only group to the left of, and he’s to the left of them.”

Grayson spokeswoman Susan Clary acknowledged his anti-war activism and participation at several Code Pink rallies, but said that voters were more interested in his record of taking on corruption.

“He is the anti-war candidate, it’s no secret,” said Clary. “People respond to Alan not because he’s a Democrat, not because he has progressive views on the war, but because he’s won taxpayer money back and because he wants health care for everyone.”