If you want to see how Foleygate is playing out in the field, look no further than the 10th Congressional district of Pennsylvania, home to GOP Rep. Don Sherwood. President Bush won the rural district, which stretches all the way from Pennsylvania’s New Jersey border down to Delaware, by 60 percent in 2004. By any metric, it should be a safe Republican seat.
Yet Sherwood is in hot water for allegedly trying to strangle his 29-year-old mistress and settling out of court for an undisclosed (rumored to be multimillion dollar) sum. Sherwood, elected in 1994, barely won his primary against an opponent who spent only $5,000 on the race.
Now he trails Democrat Chris Carney, a retired Navy lieutenant who worked on counterterrorism at the Pentagon after 9/11, by nine points in recent polling.
Carney originally ran a TV ad referencing Sherwood’s affair without mentioning it directly. A few days after the Foley scandal broke, Sherwood–in an attempt to insulate himself– ran an ad apologizing. And he subsequently canceled campaign events with two leading figures in Foleygate, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds.
A few days ago, the Carney campaign responded with a devastating ad featuring local residents talking about Sherwood’s transgressions. “I’m a life-long Republican,” says Arthur Bender of Meshoppen, PA, “and I really don’t go along with his moral behavior.”
With 86 percent of Republicans citing “cultural values” as an important issue, it’s safe to assume this won’t be the only ad of its kind.