Anti-incumbent split could save Florida liberal

By Sean Lengell-The Washington Times

Freshman Rep. Alan Grayson, one of the most outspoken and liberal members of Congress, may be wearing out his welcome in his moderate central Florida district.

In one of the nation’s most closely watched House races, the controversial Democrat trails Republican challenger Daniel Webster by 7 percentage points – 43 percent to 36 percent – in an independent poll released Tuesday by Sunshine State News and conducted by Voter Survey Service.

Also troubling for Mr. Grayson is the 51 percent of voters who hold an unfavorable view of him.

“The only real path to victory for Grayson is to vilify Webster and hope third-party candidates become an alternative choice for the anti-incumbent vote, which is now being split three ways,” said Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service.

And that’s what the incumbent is doing. He’s hammered Mr. Webster in recent weeks, most notably through a scathing new television advertisement that compares him with the Taliban.

The ad, which accused Mr. Webster of opposing women’s right issues while in the Florida Legislature, has drawn national attention and widespread Republican condemnation.

“If the negative stuff is going to work, it’s got to be at least believable, and the Taliban connection is so far out there,” said April Schiff, a Florida Republican strategist. “What are they trying to do? Terrorize the voters, scare them? I’m not sure that works.”

The Taliban ad came a couple weeks after Mr. Grayson portrayed his Republican opponent as a Vietnam War draft dodger. Mr. Webster got an educational deferment from the war and then failed a physical.

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