Spin Control

FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2010, 11:07 A.M.

U.S. Senate race: Murray ad hits air; poll shows challengers ahead

Sen. Patty Murray enlisted some veterans to help her with a campaign commercial that could help counter the ad blitz by a conservative business group.

A new poll suggests she has a reason to get out on the airwaves: Rasmussen Reports says Republican challengers Dino Rossi and Clint Didier both have 48 percent and she has 45 percent in head-to-head matchups.

Murray's new ad hit the airwaves about a day after the American Action Network, a group that bills itself as a non-profit "think tank" to promote center-right policies, unleashed its "dirty tennis shoes on our backs" spot. The group's board includes former Republican senators George Allen and Norm Coleman, and some executives from investment or drug firms, but it's not technically a campaign ad because it only talks about Murray, not any of her opponents, and asks viewers to sign a petition to her. (You can read more about it, and see it,at this previous post.)

It's not just on TV, it's got prominent spots on some political blogs.

Murray's ad features veterans from all the uniformed services who talk about things she's done to help them either in the military or after they got out. Some are people Murray met during her terms, others came to the campaign offices and asked what they could do to help, a spokeswoman said.

And, unlike the think tank ad, Julie Edwards said, all are real people, none are actors.

The Rasmussen poll suggests a slight shift since June when "Murray and Rossi were tied as they have been in virtually every survey this year. Since the beginning of the year, Murray has earned 46% to 48% of the vote, while Rossi's support has ranged from 46% to 49%.  Incumbents that fall short of 50% at this stage of a campaign are considered potentially vulnerable, but worrisome for Murray is that this is her poorest showing of the year. She was reelected to a third term in 2004 with 55% of the vote."

The biggest shift is that Murray led Didier last month. Rasmussen also tested her strength against Republican Paul Akers, and Murray came out on top, 46% to 41%, but a slight shift from June's 48-38 lead. The poll was conducted on July 14, which was after the dirty tennis shoe ad aired, but before Murray brought out the vets ad.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.