Congressmen Running Against Congress

In what is perhaps a sign of nervousness over anti-incumbent fervor, two Midwestern Congressman running for Senate are trying to portray themselves as “outsiders.”

First, there’s seven-term Congressman Roy Blunt, now running for Senate from Missouri:

In an effort to buck up his base a month before the primary, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is going up on the air with his first television ad of the Missouri Senate campaign.

The 30-second spot, which begins running statewide Tuesday, places Blunt on a farm and never mentions his seven terms in Congress or his party.

It’s the clearest signal to date that while Blunt managed to escape a highly competitive primary challenge in a restless cycle, he still has work to do with a portion of his base, which remains unsettled by his prolific earmarking, prominent role in the bank bailout and deep ties to Washington.

The mostly biographical ad mentions his early career as a high school teacher and university president before delving into a case against the growth of government.

“I was taught there was nothing you couldn’t achieve through education and hard work, but now that America is threatened,” Blunt says. “Irresponsible spending and crippling debt are killing jobs today and our children’s future tomorrow,” he continues as pictures of faces flash over a gray exterior shot of the nation’s capital.

“That’s wrong and I’ll fight to change it,” he closes

On the Democratic side, there’s Brad Ellsworth, who’s facing Dan Coats in the race for the seat currently held by Evan Bayh:

In his first 30-second spot for his Senate campaign, Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) is seen standing, clad in blue jeans in what appears to be an abandoned factory touting his quarter of a century as a sheriff.

“One thing that 25 years as a sheriff teaches you is zero tolerance for bull. There’s too much at stake,” Ellsworth says as he walks through the shuttered building. “But out in Washington it’s like they live and breathe the stuff. They waste our money. They take care of special interests. And they don’t care if lobbyists write the laws or if our jobs get shipped overseas.”

Ellsworth, who is battling former GOP Sen. Dan Coats for retiring Sen. Evan Bayh’s seat, is in only his second term in the House. But — much like Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who also unveiled his first Senate campaign ad Tuesday — there’s no mention of his most recent résumé builder in the spot.

The Coats campaign was quick to note the ad never mentions Ellsworth’s incumbent status.

“It’s telling that the incumbent congressman is going up with ads in July for a November election, but considering he’s got a lot of explaining to do after supporting the liberal Obama agenda of Wall Street bailouts, a failed stimulus and a massive health spending bill, it makes sense,” said Coats campaign spokesman Pete Seat.

One has to wonder if either candidate actually believes that the public is going to forget the fact that they are Members of Congress, especially in the case of Blunt, who’s been there for 14 years and was, for a time, a member of the Republican leadership. Ellsworth, similarly, has been in Congress since 2006. It’s hard to believe that most politically aware people in their respective states aren’t aware of these facts.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Congress, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grampagravy says:

    We heard a lot about the “anti-incumbent wave” until the recent primaries when the “wave” proved to be barely a dribble. So, now we have the “anti-incumbent fervor” that’s going to drive all those insiders and rascals out of Washington. Really, this time.

  2. tom p says:

    Nobody ever said Blunt was particularly sharp.