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Moms and dads star in battle for Congress

November 02, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Nevada Sen. Dean Heller's campaign released an ad featuring his parents, Jack and Janet.
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller's campaign released an ad featuring his parents,… ( )

WASHINGTON -- Candidates are calling in reinforcements to make closing arguments in the battle for control of Congress: Their parents.

Moms and dads are featured in several Senate ads and fundraising solicitations across the political landscape, making a particular parental plea in close swing states.

“I need to speak up for my daughter,” wrote Richard Cutter in a fundraising email for his daughter, Linda Lingle, the former Republican governor of Hawaii running for Senate against Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono, who polls show is favored in the Aloha State. “Let’s not let the other side beat up on Linda.”

In Nevada, Republican Dean Heller, the incumbent senator who is trying to fend off a challenge from Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, released an ad this week in which he takes a stroll with his parents, an auto mechanic and a former school cook, to talk about the values of working hard and playing by the rules. Berkley often mentions her own father, who was a Las Vegas waiter, as she campaigns on bolstering the middle class.

Parents have long played starring roles in campaigns, and have been credited in some cases with winning races. In Nevada’s 2nd congressional district, Republicans attribute the role of Rep. Mark Amodei’s mom in an ad about Medicare to helping him win a special election last year in the heavily Republican district.

At the top of the ticket, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s mom, Betty, has made regular appearances on the campaign trail with her son, the architect of the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like system that offers seniors a set amount of money for their healthcare. President Obama’s mother’s struggles with healthcare as she battled cancer have long provided a story line.

“I am 91 years old and a veteran of W.W. II,” said Paul B. Akin, who dashed off a fundraising appeal for his son, Todd Akin, who is in a close contest against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, as both candidates court the veterans’ vote. McCaskill’s own mom, Betty Anne, died earlier this week, with a memorial set for Sunday, and the senator sent a note to supporters thanking them for their thoughts and prayers.

“Please, if you can, support my son today,” the elder Akin wrote. “Running these campaigns is incredibly expensive.”

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