How Bad Is it for Democrats?

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When you think of an ideal Republican candidate to run in rural North Carolina against a seven-term Blue Dog incumbent Democrat, a few qualities don’t spring to mind. Among them are:

–A Manhattan-born former Goldman Sachs trader

–Someone who has only lived in the district for six years

–Once accused of premeditated murder

And yet that’s Ilario Pantano, who is now running a tight race against seven-term incumbent Mike McIntyre.

About that “murder”: In 2005, Pantano, a former U.S. Marine, emptied two M-16 clips–or up to 60 rounds–at two unarmed Iraqis in his custody. He was charged with murder and faced the death penalty, but the charges were dismissed. The investigating officer did call the episode “a disgrace to the armed forces,” however. (Read more in this New York magazine cover story.) Throw in the NYC-Goldman factor, and it’s an awful lot of baggage to carry. But the Tea Party-backed Pantano–who held a fundraiser at a firing range this week–seems to have McIntyre on the defensive.

P.S. See also Florida House GOP candidate Allen West, best known for firing his gun near the head of an Iraqi in 2003 to terrify the man during an interrogation, and running even stronger in the state’s southeastern 22nd district.