The Plank

God (or Godlessness) Shifts Dynamic Of Nc Senate Race

I recently wrote an
about Kay Hagan, the Democratic challenger to GOP
Senator Elizabeth Dole of North
Carolina. The race is one of the most critical of the
election season, and both parties are spending millions to secure victory. Hagan,
a state senator with little recognition outside North Carolina, has been holding a small but
solid lead in the polls--this
, she's up three points--and Dole has struggled to garner
support during the financial crisis, when economic issues took a forefront in
the race. Now, though, Dole is hammering Hagan on social issues. She's accused
her challenger of being "godless" in a new ad, noting that Hagan attended a Boston fund-raiser hosted
by people with ties to an atheist group. At the end of the ad, Hagan's image
appears and another woman's voice says, "There is no God!" Hagan has given
Dole's campaign 24 hours to pull the ad before seeking a cease-and-desist order.

What's more, the NC GOP sponsored a mailer emphasizing that
Hagan opposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the state (which she
does). It also highlighted Hagan's Boston

These heavy-handed attacks on social issues are new to the
race, which, up until this final stretch, has focused heavily on the economy,
as well as Dole's record and ties to President Bush. In September, I asked
Hagan why social issues hadn't been brought up, and here is what she had to say
in a portion of our discussion that didn't make it into my original article: 

"I don't think I've ever on the
campaign trail gotten a comment about social issues. I think a lot of that is
the fear tactics that Republicans and Karl Rove try to use as wedge issues. ...
To me, we are our brothers' keepers, and we need to be working together to help
the country."

It has yet to be seen what sort of effect the new GOP
attacks will have, but they have shifted the rhetoric of the race and, for the
time being, focused it squarely on the traditional GOP go-to issues of gays and
God. Consequently, Hagan is having to play serious defense for the first time
in several weeks, even more so than when Dole ran an ad comparing Hagan to a yapping
. Hagan held a press conference with her pastor and family this morning
to address her faith and spent this afternoon at the General Baptist State Convention.
Her Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Joe Mullin, also recently recorded a radio ad in
her defense.

--Seyward Darby

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