Legal troubles no barrier for candidates
Historically speaking, campaigning while out on bail on felony charges has proven to be a surefire way to lose an election, with some notable exceptions.
But this campaign cycle, felony indictments appeared little more damaging than TV attack ads as three Republican candidates facing an assortment of fraud charges squeaked past their Democratic opponents to hang onto their seats Tuesday night.
They include Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., indicted on federal charges of wire fraud and accusations he funded a luxurious lifestyle with campaign donations; Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., indicted on federal insider trading charges; and Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, indicted on felony securities fraud charges in state court, accused of lying to friends and potential investors about his financial stake in a tech company.
All ran in solid red territory. Though each candidate won their race by single-digit margins as of early Wednesday, their victories highlight the polarizing political climate in which criminal investigations into elected officials are frequently met with more sympathy among supporters than scorn.
All three candidates have denied wrongdoing and characterized the indictments against them as politically motivated “witch hunts,” as their Democratic opponents have lunged at every opportunity to remind voters that jail time could be in their futures.
“Republicans, Democrats and independents know that it’s time to put country before party and reject a Congressman who’s out on bail,” Collins’s opponent Nate McMurray said in an Oct. 29 statement.
“If Paxton can’t follow the law, how can he enforce it?” read one an ad from Paxton’s challenger, Justin Nelson.
None of it worked.
Rep. Duncan Hunter takes pizzas to campaign workers. Hunter won despite facing federal charges of wire fraud.