Rep. Heather Wilson, a Republican from New Mexico's First Congressional District, is the only female veteran currently in Congress. She's the first Air Force Academy graduate in Congress and a former Rhodes scholar. She's also looking more and more like toast. Democratic challenger and Attorney General Patricia Madrid has run an aggressive campaign and gut-punch attack ads, featuring Wilson morphing into President Bush. Those ads seem to have worked well.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Daniel Murphy, a retired factory worker ... is a registered Republican, but he plans to cast his vote in November for Patricia 'Patsy' Madrid, the Democratic challenger to four-term GOP House member Heather Wilson. 'We made a mistake going into Iraq, and now I think it's time to fix that mistake,' said Murphy, 69. 'Wilson is too close to President Bush, and it's time for a change.' " This is central casting's version of the reaction Madrid wants voters to exhibit after viewing her TV commercials.
An Associated Press report from earlier this week on local polling says, "A survey of 470 registered voters in the First District who are likely to cast ballots in the November 7 general election found 53 percent would support Madrid, 45 percent would back Wilson, and 2 percent were undecided."
The Wilson-Madrid race is a microcosm of what Democrats hope will take place nationwide on November 7-certainly in districts where most voters are registered Democrats who've been sending Republicans to Congress in recent years. First District constituents were not dissatisfied with Wilson's performance prior to the failed war in Iraq. In fact, one of her strongest points was constituent service. But her excellent record in that realm has been drowned out by media coverage of the war and congressional scandals enveloping Republican House leaders.
Ohio's Second, on the other hand, has leaned Republican as far back as the Civil Warours, not Iraq's. Short-timer Republican Jean Schmidt was elected last year to fill out the remainder of the term of former Rep. Bob Portman, who was President Bush's pick to become director of the Office of Management and Budget.
But Schmidt made what could turn out to be the costly mistake of delivering a message to noted antiwar Democrat and decorated military veteran Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Murtha was, of course, one of the first in Congress to urge Bush to pull out of Iraq.
Schmidt was booed off the House floor last November when she said a constituent told her to tell Murtha, "Cowards cut and run. Marines never do." Schmidt was later forced to apologize to Murtha, saying she hadn't realized he was a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. Whoops! Murtha returned the favor recently by campaigning for Schmidt's opponent, Democrat Victoria Wulsin.
Recent polls show contradictory results in this race. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports, "A new SurveyUSA poll done for WCPO-TV in Ohio's Second Congressional District has Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt with an 8 percentage point lead over Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin (a doctor and former public-health official.)
" ... the Wulsin campaign has been touting a poll by RTStrategies, a Northern Virginia firm that does polling for the Cook Political Report, showing Wulsin with 48 percent and Schmidt with 45 percent."