October Surprises

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What would an election season be without a few October surprises – or a lot? Illegal maids, audio tapes of staff slurring the opponent, old rape cases with questions about prosecution, photos of a young candidate cavorting with a dildo-nosed Rudolph – welcome to the final sprint of the 2010 midterm elections. And it’s only going to get worse.

In the Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown race for California governor, last night’s debate is evidence enough of how acrimonious the campaign has become. Whitman, a former ebay CEO and the Republican in the race, has been battling accusations that she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as a maid for nearly a decade. Brown, a former governor seeking his job back, has been on his heels over a tape where a staffer is overheard calling Whitman a “whore.” Whitman says she fired the maid as soon as she found out she was illegal and Brown has apologized for the slur.

In Colorado, Republican candidate for Senate Ken Buck has dismissed charges that as Weld County district attorney he mishandled a rape case, declining to pursue charges even after the alleged perpetrator admitted to authorities he knew he’d done something very wrong. Buck argues that the case could not have withstood a jury trial and blames partisan maneuvering for bringing it to light.

In West Virginia, copies of Liz Raese’s voting ballots in Florida have been dredged up to prove that her husband, Republican candidate for Senate John Raese, isn’t really a resident of West Virginia. The Raeses say one of their daughters has a learning disability and attends a special school in Florida, while John Raese still lives full time in West Virginia.

And in a Virginia House race, old photos of the Dem candidate, Krystal Ball, sucking a dildo-shaped fake red nose worn by a man at a Holiday party have surfaced. Ball admits it’s her in the photos but says the release of them is “sexist” and is a lame attempt to distract voters from the issues.

Noticeably, most of these oppo dumps have come from Dems – not surprising given the national climate. Democrats have long said they need to individualize each race – make it about the merits of each candidate rather than a national referendum on President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Plus, Dems have the most to lose and therefore the greater incentive to go negative as they face a potential tsunami. Are any of these October surprises game changers? If history is any lesson, some of them may be. And it’s a safe bet that more are sure to come.

Alex Altman reminds me of this guy, who apparently enjoys Nazi reenactments, who has embraced his October surprise and is running with it. Commentators: any other October surprises I’ve missed?