Soon-to-be-former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, neither seen nor heard in the four weeks since her thumping loss to Democratic challenger Betsy Markey, finally made that phone call. Thing is, it wasn’t a concession call to Markey, and it wasn’t a call to thank her supporters. No, the lame-duck Republican lent her voice to a robocall for the Georgia Senate run-off election on Tuesday, blaming “leftist special interests” for her defeat.
“They overwhelmed us with money,” Musgrave says in the call. “And they smothered the truth with vicious attacks and lies,” The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported online Tuesday. It gets better.
It’s the first evidence the three-term congresswoman survived her Election Day trouncing. Musgrave’s robocall supporting Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is part of “Team Sarah” — yep, that’s Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — organized by the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund. The conservative group claimed Monday it’s “contacting over 200,000 Georgia households with a Get Out the Vote phone message recorded by Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO).”
Chambliss, the incumbent senator from Georgia, is vying in a run-off election with Democrat Jim Martin on Tuesday. Georgia law requires a run-off if neither candidate surpasses 50 percent of the vote, and a Libertarian candidate drew enough votes to keep Chambliss just shy of a clear majority. Heavy hitters from both parties have flooded the state with visits and advertising— including a robocall on Martin’s behalf from President-elect Barack Obama — because the seat could tip the balance in the Senate to a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority if Martin wins. Polls, however, showed Chambliss comfortably ahead before the run-off.
After blaming “leftist special interests” for her 12-point loss in the traditionally Republican district, Musgrave warns Georgia voters not to make the same mistake her constituents did:
“We are seeing the same pattern in Georgia. Pro-abortion radicals and liberal activists won’t stop until they have a choke-hold on our government. You can stop them with your vote. It’s too late to change the results in Colorado, but on Tuesday you can cast your vote for Saxby Chambliss.”
The Musgrave-Markey race was particularly bitter and expensive, costing as much as $10 million and resulting in both candidates’ filing criminal charges against each other’s campaigns for ads they claimed were misleading. Outside groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Defenders of Wildlife, spent $3.5 million on a relentless barrage of attack ads against Musgrave.
“To be sure, the outside groups did take their toll, but I’m inclined to think she played an even bigger role in her own defeat,” Colorado State University political science professor Bob Duffy told the Coloradoan. “I think it is more likely that voters tired of her polarizing stances on social issues, her relentlessly negative campaign tactics, and her failure to offer positive agenda for the district. On top of that, Betsy Markey ran a very effective campaign, and offered a mix of fiscal conservatism and social tolerance that proved attractive to voters in 2008.”
Listen to Musgrave’s robocall here, courtesy Colorado Pols.