Gulf Oil Spill Politics Spreads Across Country

Connecticut Senate candidates Linda McMahon, a Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, have sparred over family investments in energy companies, including firms with connections to Iran.

There are risks to invoking the oil spill. Nationally, Democrats have failed to convert the alarm caused by the spill into momentum for cap-and-trade proposals.

In campaigning, Duffy said that candidates must be careful to be "getting caught by voters politicizing it" and displaying "a lack of subtlety."

"The only risk is overstating it or not being truthful about it," Duffy said. "Either not being truthful about your opponent's position or making an allegation that isn't credible. One of the lines in Feingold's ad I thought was a little over the top [was] about when he said that his opponent wanted to hand over the Great Lakes to oil companies. That's not an entirely credible statement."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat facing a challenge from former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, said this week that his campaign erred in referencing the oil spill in a controversial radio ad. The ad, attacking Ehrlich's connections to a firm that has lobbied for oil companies, was criticized for invoking the disaster in the Gulf.

"The ad did mention the fact that oil was coming ashore in the Gulf, probably something the ad didn't need to do and shouldn't have done because it allowed the former governor to claim that we were making claims that he was associated with BP, which we never have," said O'Malley on WTOP radio's "Ask the Governor" program. "What we should not have mentioned was that the oil spill was going on in that ad and that was a tactical mistake that my campaign made."

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