In suburban Northern Virginia this past Sunday, parishioners of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church came back to their cars to find flyers on their windshields from the National Right to Life Committee, including pictures of babies and reading "This election... LIFE is on the line!"
The flyer goes after the state's freshman Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly for voting "for the Obama health care law," adding the "law will provide government funding for health plans that pay for abortion on demand..."
NRLC officials tell Fox News that they are targeting about 100 races in swing districts across the country with nearly 10 million similar flyers. And in Virginia, these flyers are directly helping Republican opponent Keith Fimian by touting his promise to help repeal the law.
Connolly's campaign calls the claim that health insurance reform allows federal funding of abortion "flat out false." Connolly campaign manager James Walkinshaw adds, "But what's not false is the fact that Keith Fimian is so extreme that he would outlaw abortion rights even in the case of rape, incest, or health of the mother. Fimian's extreme agenda is wrong for Northern Virginia."
In a similar case, Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus of Ohio recently filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission over billboards pro-life organization Susan B Anthony List intended to be posted in the Cincinnati area asserting that Driehaus "voted for taxpayer-funded abortion" when he voted for the Obama health care law. The complaint utilized an Ohio statute under which it is a violation to make "a false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official."
In response, the NLRC has produced a sworn affidavit in an effort to demonstrate that the Obama health care law does, in fact, provide subsidies for elective abortion. "We did that to buttress our analysis that multiple provisions of the bill authorize federal subsidies for abortion," said Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for NRLC. "Not just one provision, but multiple provisions."
Connolly, like Driehaus, is a freshman Democratic congressman in a swing district, facing a tough political climate in his re-election campaign. Virginia's 11th district narrowly voted for President Bush in 2004, but gave President Obama 57 percent of the vote in 2008. That same year, it elected Connolly by a healthy 55 percent to 43 percent margin over Fimian. Fairfax County swung back toward the Republicans in the 2009 gubernatorial election when all three statewide GOP candidates carried the district.
Connolly also voted for the biggest and most controversial Obama administration initiatives, such as the stimulus and cap ‘n trade legislation, in addition to the health care overhaul. The race is seen by many as emblematic of the problems facing Democrats nationwide and has gotten increasingly nasty lately with attack ads all over the airwaves.
More than $1 million in ads are on the air in Northern Virginia, and all of them are negative. Connolly and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are both on the air attacking Fimian, while Fimian and the American Action Network are firing back at Connolly.
AAN made the biggest buy; the conservative group reported to the Federal Election Commission recently that it had spent nearly $900,000 to run ads against Connolly. The group's spot, showing children struggling to carry heavy backpacks, says the Democrat "loaded our kids up" with huge amounts of spending and debt. At the same time, Fimian has been on the air with an ad accusing Connolly of a "disturbing pattern" of reckless spending.
The DCCC has spent nearly $350,000 on the House race, some of it on ads and some of it on anti-Fimian direct mail. The committee's current spot attacks Fimian for his business record, accusing him of lying about how he built his company.
For his part, Connolly has spent at least $500,000 on broadcast ads. He has run a negative ad slamming Fimian for allegedly supporting an unusual bonus system for members of Congress who balance the budget. Connolly also has an ad on the air attacking Fimian for opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.