It is nothing new for local politicians to shun unpopular leaders of their parties to remain viable with voters, nor is it so uncommon for elected officials to switch parties when the going gets tough.
But least two Democrats are trying a different approach this election season: actively attacking President Obama.
Take Charlie Wilson, a former Ohio congressman who lost his reelection bid in 2010 to Republican Rep. Bill Johnson. Facing his old foe again this November, Wilson has debuted a new ad that strikes as much at his own party as at his opponent’s.
“Charlie Wilson voted against [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi 105 times,” the narrator says, adding that Wilson also opposed President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Medicare. The ad says Wilson opposed “Obama’s bad trade deals,” and calls Wilson a “true independent.”
Also on the ballot: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, whose first ads are out today and squarely distance him from Democrats in Washington.
In one 30 second ad, the narrator says Tomblin’s “conservative financial management” has balanced West Virginia’s budget, “while the federal government can’t stop spending.”
Another attacks Obama’s energy policy.
“Since the day I became governor, I fought the Obama Administration’s war on coal,” it says. “I took them to court, and we won.”
Of course, bucking one’s own party isn’t unique to Democrats this cycle. Earlier this summer Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., drew criticism for donating to the reelection campaign of another West Virginian: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. And in Hawaii Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono, running for Senate, enjoyed the backing of veteran Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, in a televised ad.
“Here’s what’s important, Hawaii,” Young says, seated next to his colleague. “If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”