'No need for deception, Congressman'
It's hard to know which is more depressing: the fact that many residents of New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District apparently don't know who their congressman is or the fact that Frank Guinta is trying to take advantage of it in order to win reelection.
Guinta, alert readers will recall, is, in fact, the sitting congressman in the eastern half of the state. A Republican, he beat the former incumbent, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, in the GOP wave of 2010.
That means that here in 2012, Guinta is the incumbent. His challenger is Shea-Porter, who wants her old seat back. It's not terribly confusing, if you're paying attention. But Guinta knows that many voters are not.
As Monitor reporter Tricia Nadolny wrote last week, Guinta's reelection campaign is leaving recorded messages on voicemail machines in the 1st District that say, "Hi. This is Frank Guinta, candidate for Congress, running against Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. I'm running to end the broken culture of Washington." In campaign letters, too, the Guinta camp drops the "former" from Shea-Porter's title.
And in a recent campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee told voters that it was time to "replace" Shea-Porter and other Democrats who supported President Obama's health care law.
In other words, the Republicans are hoping voters will think that Shea-Porter is the incumbent member of Congress and Guinta is the outsider trying to fix Washington. Except, of course, that in the actual world, he's the member of Congress - at least these days, that is.
In other words, they're lying.
It's not surprising Guinta doesn't want to be associated with Washington. Congress isn't popular and has accomplished remarkably little in the past two years. If voters are inclined to throw the bums out - again! - he's hoping voters think Shea-Porter is, in fact, that bum.
The spectacle of a sitting congressman banking on his constituents' ignorance is grim indeed, not to mention disrespectful.
Guinta and Shea-Porter offer a clear choice to voters. They disagree on nearly everything. She voted for the Affordable Care Act, he voted to repeal it. Their ideas on the federal budget, taxes, women's health, labor issues and more are in stark contrast to each other. Both candidates have a voting record. Both have a record of constituent service for voters to weigh.
With no primary challengers, Guinta can spend the next three months explaining to voters how he differs from his opponent and why they should give him another shot. If he's proud of his record, there's no need to resort to trickery. Here's hoping the 1st District's sitting member of Congress (that's Guinta!) takes his campaign to a slightly higher level.