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Politics News | Balance of power: Senate Dems mount swing state offense on ‘carpetbagger’ claims

Democrats are hinging their hopes of retaining the Senate majority on voters’ disdain for so-called “carpetbaggers.”

As Senate Democrats fight to keep several vulnerable incumbents from losing tough races in swing states across the country, their campaign arm and state parties are homing in on Republican candidates’ traits and biographies over policies.

“It’s a time-honored direction for campaigns to go, but it isn’t always effective,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye. “Given the overwhelming concerns about rising prices, the border and the general direction of the country, it may be tough for this to break through.”

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Historically, carpetbaggers were northerners who traveled to the South during the Reconstruction era following the Civil War with the goal of profiting off of the weakened region. In modern politics, it refers to politicians that move to a new area in order to run for office. 

Five Democratic incumbent senators are embroiled in highly competitive reelection battles in Ohio, Montana, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as the party faces a uniquely disadvantageous Senate election map. 

“Senate Republicans’ roster of recruits is full of carpetbaggers who don’t know the first thing about the states they’re running in and candidates who bring enough financial scandals and baggage to fill a bank vault,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesperson Tommy Garcia said in a statement earlier this year. 

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Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, explained, “After Democrats used this attack, successfully in my view, against Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania last cycle, I think it’s just become kind of an ‘in vogue’ kind of attack, although it’s also by no mean a new strategy.”

Both national and state level Democratic Party entities have parroted the argument, particularly in reference to the Republican Senate candidate in Montana, former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, as well as Pennsylvania Republican nominee Dave McCormick. 

“Democrats can’t run on their steadfast support for Joe Biden’s agenda of reckless spending, open borders, and chaos around the globe, so they are lying about our candidates and refusing to discuss the pressing issues facing the American people,” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRCS) spokesperson Mike Berg said in a statement.

Montana is expected to see one of the closest Senate races of the cycle between Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sheehy, and the former’s campaign has fully adopted the term “carpetbagger” to describe his opponent. The attack has similarly been picked up by the state’s Democratic Party. 

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Following the state’s primaries last week, Tester’s campaign amplified his insinuation during a TV interview that Sheehy was “trying to buy Montana,” while emphasizing his own roots. 

“I think it’s a very potent argument in Montana,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. 

Sheehy is originally from Minnesota and moved to Montana in 2014 before starting his company there. 

“Let’s face it, Tester’s trying to reach a conservative audience,” Bannon said, noting that references to his generational roots are “conservative” by nature. 

“Montana has an insider vs. outsider dynamic in politics, in part because of a lot of new transplants from other places,” Kondik said. 

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for Sheehy’s campaign said, “After Tim left the Navy and Carmen left the Marines, they chose to make Montana home to raise their family and build their businesses because it was a place consistent with their values and the way they wanted to live.”

“Tim is proud to have founded Bridger Aerospace in his barn with all his savings, an all-veteran team, and created over 200 Montana jobs. Tim is proud to have founded Little Belt Cattle Company, where they raise, finish, and process premium beef 100% in Montana,” the statement continued. 

“Tim and his wife, Carmen, and their four kids are proud Montanans, and it’s truly a shame that Jon Tester and the Democrats would call a combat veteran a carpetbagger when he was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq fighting for our freedoms all while Tester was becoming a multimillionaire and getting six times richer as a career politician in Washington D.C. While we know Tester will never understand what it’s like to put on a uniform and serve our great nation, the veterans in Montana sure do and will vote Tester out this November,” the spokesperson concluded. 

McCormick, who is running for Senate as a Republican again after seeking the GOP nod in 2022, was notably born and raised in Pennsylvania, also starting his business in the state. Carpetbagger claims were initiated when it was reported that he owned a Connecticut home, in addition to his Pittsburgh property. 

“I also think it’s effective in Pennsylvania, because the Casey name is as synonymous with Pennsylvania as cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia,” claimed Bannon, referencing Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s family and its long history in the state’s politics. 

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Kondik remarked, “In the Industrial North, the percentage of residents born in state is higher than it is in the Sun Belt. So maybe these attacks have more resonance — or at least Democrats hope they have more resonance — because of some local specifics, too.”

McCormick campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Gregory said in a statement to Fox News Digital, “Pennsylvanians from across the commonwealth are joining Dave’s movement to send a 7th-generation Pennsylvanian, combat veteran, West Point graduate, and PA job creator to the Senate to deliver new leadership and fresh ideas.”

“Career politician and habitual liar Bob Casey votes for Joe Biden’s failing agenda 98% of the time, fueling a border crisis that has killed over 4,000 Pennsylvanians from fentanyl, violent crime, record inflation and regulations that are killing the commonwealth’s energy sector. On November 5, Pennsylvania will retire empty suit Bob Casey and send Dave McCormick to the Senate,” she added. 

Per Republican strategist Erin Perrine, “Democrats know they are struggling to connect with voters on policy positions, as polling shows they are underwater on top voter concerns like immigration and the economy.” This forces the party to “make an emotional appeal to voters, arguing that they can represent them because they are one of them,” she said.

Bannon claimed that Democrats’ focus on these carpetbagging accusations is motivated by the independent voters they are going after. “The independents who are two up for grabs, they’re more likely to focus on personal traits in the last stage of the election than the voters who’ve made up their mind already,” he explained. 

The strategy additionally “plays into a larger, familiar narrative in which Democrats attack Republicans as being wealthy and out-of-touch. It’s one part of a larger argument,” Kondik emphasized. 

But according to Perrine, “A homegrown emotional appeal usually isn’t a winning strategy in a general election, when voters show up on Election Day about what matters most to them every day, not where someone is from.”

​Democrats have lobbed “carpetbagger” attacks at Republican Senate candidates in swing states as they look to preserve their majority in the upper chamber, despite a difficult election map. 

Democrats are hinging their hopes of retaining the Senate majority on voters’ disdain for so-called “carpetbaggers.”

As Senate Democrats fight to keep several vulnerable incumbents from losing tough races in swing states across the country, their campaign arm and state parties are homing in on Republican candidates’ traits and biographies over policies.

“It’s a time-honored direction for campaigns to go, but it isn’t always effective,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye. “Given the overwhelming concerns about rising prices, the border and the general direction of the country, it may be tough for this to break through.”

GOP SHORES UP MICHIGAN EFFORT AS DEMS LOSE SENATE INCUMBENT ADVANTAGE

Historically, carpetbaggers were northerners who traveled to the South during the Reconstruction era following the Civil War with the goal of profiting off of the weakened region. In modern politics, it refers to politicians that move to a new area in order to run for office. 

Five Democratic incumbent senators are embroiled in highly competitive reelection battles in Ohio, Montana, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as the party faces a uniquely disadvantageous Senate election map. 

“Senate Republicans’ roster of recruits is full of carpetbaggers who don’t know the first thing about the states they’re running in and candidates who bring enough financial scandals and baggage to fill a bank vault,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesperson Tommy Garcia said in a statement earlier this year. 

SCHUMER JUSTIFIES CONGRESSIONAL INVITE TO NETANYAHU AMID LIBERAL OUTRAGE

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, explained, “After Democrats used this attack, successfully in my view, against Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania last cycle, I think it’s just become kind of an ‘in vogue’ kind of attack, although it’s also by no mean a new strategy.”

Both national and state level Democratic Party entities have parroted the argument, particularly in reference to the Republican Senate candidate in Montana, former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, as well as Pennsylvania Republican nominee Dave McCormick. 

“Democrats can’t run on their steadfast support for Joe Biden’s agenda of reckless spending, open borders, and chaos around the globe, so they are lying about our candidates and refusing to discuss the pressing issues facing the American people,” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRCS) spokesperson Mike Berg said in a statement.

Montana is expected to see one of the closest Senate races of the cycle between Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sheehy, and the former’s campaign has fully adopted the term “carpetbagger” to describe his opponent. The attack has similarly been picked up by the state’s Democratic Party. 

BIDEN ADMIN ACCUSED OF PLAYING POLITICS WITH FLORIDA FUNDING IN PRO-UNION PUSH

Following the state’s primaries last week, Tester’s campaign amplified his insinuation during a TV interview that Sheehy was “trying to buy Montana,” while emphasizing his own roots. 

“I think it’s a very potent argument in Montana,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. 

Sheehy is originally from Minnesota and moved to Montana in 2014 before starting his company there. 

“Let’s face it, Tester’s trying to reach a conservative audience,” Bannon said, noting that references to his generational roots are “conservative” by nature. 

“Montana has an insider vs. outsider dynamic in politics, in part because of a lot of new transplants from other places,” Kondik said. 

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for Sheehy’s campaign said, “After Tim left the Navy and Carmen left the Marines, they chose to make Montana home to raise their family and build their businesses because it was a place consistent with their values and the way they wanted to live.”

“Tim is proud to have founded Bridger Aerospace in his barn with all his savings, an all-veteran team, and created over 200 Montana jobs. Tim is proud to have founded Little Belt Cattle Company, where they raise, finish, and process premium beef 100% in Montana,” the statement continued. 

“Tim and his wife, Carmen, and their four kids are proud Montanans, and it’s truly a shame that Jon Tester and the Democrats would call a combat veteran a carpetbagger when he was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq fighting for our freedoms all while Tester was becoming a multimillionaire and getting six times richer as a career politician in Washington D.C. While we know Tester will never understand what it’s like to put on a uniform and serve our great nation, the veterans in Montana sure do and will vote Tester out this November,” the spokesperson concluded. 

McCormick, who is running for Senate as a Republican again after seeking the GOP nod in 2022, was notably born and raised in Pennsylvania, also starting his business in the state. Carpetbagger claims were initiated when it was reported that he owned a Connecticut home, in addition to his Pittsburgh property. 

“I also think it’s effective in Pennsylvania, because the Casey name is as synonymous with Pennsylvania as cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia,” claimed Bannon, referencing Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s family and its long history in the state’s politics. 

TRUMP VP CONTENDER LEADS GOP EFFORT TO REACH BLACK VOTERS AS BIDEN LOSES GRIP

Kondik remarked, “In the Industrial North, the percentage of residents born in state is higher than it is in the Sun Belt. So maybe these attacks have more resonance — or at least Democrats hope they have more resonance — because of some local specifics, too.”

McCormick campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Gregory said in a statement to Fox News Digital, “Pennsylvanians from across the commonwealth are joining Dave’s movement to send a 7th-generation Pennsylvanian, combat veteran, West Point graduate, and PA job creator to the Senate to deliver new leadership and fresh ideas.”

“Career politician and habitual liar Bob Casey votes for Joe Biden’s failing agenda 98% of the time, fueling a border crisis that has killed over 4,000 Pennsylvanians from fentanyl, violent crime, record inflation and regulations that are killing the commonwealth’s energy sector. On November 5, Pennsylvania will retire empty suit Bob Casey and send Dave McCormick to the Senate,” she added. 

Per Republican strategist Erin Perrine, “Democrats know they are struggling to connect with voters on policy positions, as polling shows they are underwater on top voter concerns like immigration and the economy.” This forces the party to “make an emotional appeal to voters, arguing that they can represent them because they are one of them,” she said.

Bannon claimed that Democrats’ focus on these carpetbagging accusations is motivated by the independent voters they are going after. “The independents who are two up for grabs, they’re more likely to focus on personal traits in the last stage of the election than the voters who’ve made up their mind already,” he explained. 

The strategy additionally “plays into a larger, familiar narrative in which Democrats attack Republicans as being wealthy and out-of-touch. It’s one part of a larger argument,” Kondik emphasized. 

But according to Perrine, “A homegrown emotional appeal usually isn’t a winning strategy in a general election, when voters show up on Election Day about what matters most to them every day, not where someone is from.”

 910764e7-55c3-5463-ba34-f71921152235, fnc, Fox News, fox-news/politics, fox-news/politics/elections, fox-news/politics/elections/democrats, fox-news/politics/senate, fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania, fox-news/us/us-regions/west/montana, fox-news/politics, article 

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