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Race for 10th District not following current trends

Race for 10th District not following current trends

In this autumn of discontent, as Democrats across the country feel the gale-force effects of economic uncertainty and an unpopular legislative agenda, the race in the 10th Congressional District appears as something of an anomaly.

Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Carney has remained in a virtual dead heat with Republican challenger Tom Marino entering Tuesday’s election, despite constant attacks from Republicans on familiar themes – his support of health care reform and an economic stimulus measure and a voter record that closely matches that of the Democratic leadership.

Against the backdrop of national anti-Democratic, anti-incumbent fervor, conventional wisdom would give any Republican candidate a strong advantage in the 10th District. The party has a 48.1 percent to 40.5 percent voter registration edge in the sprawling 14-county district, and has provided the region’s representative in Congress for 86 of the last 100 years.

The actual Republican candidate, Mr. Marino, though, has been battered by his own gales: lingering questions of character and judgment surrounding his role as a personal reference for Dunmore businessman and convicted felon Louis DeNaples.

At a debate last week, Mr. Marino refused to answer questions about the DeNaples reference or another episode in which he attempted, while district attorney of Lycoming County, to help clear the court record of a car dealer friend who had a cocaine dealing conviction.

Mr. Carney, at the debate, openly questioned Mr. Marino’s character and trustworthiness, echoing the lines from television commercials on the DeNaples matter being aired by his campaign committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Marino’s ties to Mr. DeNaples and the Lycoming County felon, Jay Kilheeney, have helped Mr. Carney remain viable in what would otherwise have been a bleak environment for re-election, according to Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Rothenberg Political Report.

The report includes forecasted results for each House and Senate race in play Tuesday and, as of Oct. 28, lists the 10th District as a “pure toss-up,” the same rating it has held for two weeks.

“Carney was fortunate to draw the challenger that he did and it’s kept him in the game and it looks like it’s going to keep him in the game up until Election Day,” Mr. Gonzales said. “We can see the least popular of the two men win. If this were a popularity contest, Chris Carney would win. I think it’s bigger than that.”

Mr. Marino and his message makers have tried to break Mr. Carney’s popularity by focusing on the relative unpopularity of the national Democratic figures for whom they say he has been a puppet – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr. Marino’s campaign and the National Republican Campaign Committee, which has infused nearly $750,000 into the race, have aired television commercials tallying Mr. Carney’s voting record with Mrs. Pelosi at 91 percent. Mr. Marino, in an editorial board interview with The Times-Tribune last month, elevated the figure to 95 percent, but returned to the 91 percent number when comparing Mr. Carney and Mrs. Pelosi during the debate last week.

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