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Murray Looks Forward, But Berry Supporters Looking Back

by ARLnow.com — June 11, 2010 at 10:50 am 709 7 Comments

Patrick Murray is gearing up for a tough general election fight, but many supporters of the candidate he defeated in Tuesday’s GOP primary still haven’t moved on from what they say was a dishonorable finish to the campaign.

Supporters of Matthew Berry have taken to the comment section of the local Republican politics website RedNoVA to vent their frustration.

Said one: “People I’ve spoken to in the last three days are shocked and disgusted by Murrays tactics… There is no better chance that I will [support] Murray than there is of Murray defeating Moran. Period.”

Another wrote: “Upon losing you pause for a moment and then shift gears to throw your support behind the winner. In the end, we’re all Republicans, right? Well not this time for me. I saw the ugly, inside game Murray put up especially the final 96hrs and I refuse to reward that with my vote in the fall.”

Much of the controversy revolves around a mailer sent out by the Murray campaign on the eve of the election. The last-hour mailer didn’t explicitly point out that Berry is openly gay, but it included statements like “Matthew favors Gay Marriage in Virginia,” and “Matthew, who has never served in the Military, supports change of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

RedNoVA called it “one of the most foul mailers ever.”

Murray, however, disputes the notion that his campaign did anything morally objectionable.

“I want us to be nothing but positive,” Murray said during an interview at his victory party in Alexandria Tuesday night. “There was a little ugly back and forth… but I’m very confident and comfortable that we stayed on the high ground the entire time.”

Murray had an explanation for the last-minute timing of the mailing.

“I delayed the sending of our one mailer — we only did one mailer — I delayed it for days to the aggravation of my campaign staff… because I got involved to investigate in painstaking detail that we were being accurate with my opponent’s position… and we were,” he said. “I feel comfortable about what we did, and I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

Murray campaign manager R. Brandon Shultz’s view of why his candidate won had nothing to do with the mailer. In an email, Shultz touted the campaign’s grassroots support.

Our campaign was about bringing in people that are not the party insiders. We wanted to expand the volunteer group to average citizens not just those who go to the usual meetings. We brought in a lot of volunteers who had never gotten involved in a campaign before. We had a lot of precincts covered in the morning and afternoon, many of which did not have any Matthew [Berry] supporters there working the poll.

Murray said his campaign is now focused on the November face-off with ten-term incumbent Democrat Jim Moran.

“We don’t have any time to waste, we’re going right back to work and retooling our campaign for the general election,” he said during an interview with WTTG (Fox 5) the morning after the election. Murray says his campaign will retool by trying to attract a different voter than the typical primary voter.

“As far as policy, nothing changes — I am who I am. But there’s a different focus on different voters now. I’m going to go after independents and moderate Democrats. And you know what? I am very, very confident that when I sit down and talk to them over the course of the summer, we can bring votes our way.”

  • Anthony

    It’s a Democratic district. There is no way Patrick Murray will get enough votes to beat the incumbent, especially not with that kind of platform.

  • ArlingtonAaron

    As a liberal, I was happy to see the extremist win, but that mailer was a bit aggressive… the campaign manager is right about their volunteer presence… most of the voters in my precinct did have one of those mailers in their hand after receiving them from a murray volunteer outside… though a few did seem a bit angry about its contents.

  • James L.

    He delayed sending the mailer because “I got involved to investigate in painstaking detail that we were being accurate with my opponent’s position”? Exactly how long does it take to “investigate” whether you think he’s a “lawyer bureaucratic” or if “Matthew, like Bart Stupak, says he is pro-life” or that, for transportation, he “has no viable plan”? I don’t see anything particularly offensive in this mailer, except that it’s offensively stupid, but this is a pretty lame defense.

  • K

    Regardless of who won, why are Berry signs still posted all over the County? The election already happened, time to clean up the landscape. It shouldn’t take this long to make a dent in the visual pollution of campaign signs.

  • L

    RedNova, who became a shill for the Berry campain early on, clearly does not know how a campaign is won. I saw the Murray team, and Murray himself, out every weekend since March, meeting voters and knocking on doors. Never saw one Berry person. I heard from plenty of people who were impressed with Murray after meeting him and/or hearing him speak. Blogs and countin on party insiders don’t win campaigns. Action does.

  • Chris L.

    I voted for Berry in the primary. I have known him slightly for nearly 10 years and found him to be a pretty consistent limited-government type conservative. Under normal conditions, I would have no problem voting for Murray in the general. But, as a result of Murray’s last minute tactics, I think not. His “under the radar” last minute hit-job on Berry, heavily laced with innuendo and distortion, looks like it came right out of the Karl Rove playbook, and it is just too similar to the kind of ugly tactics that I have seen many times in the past from operatives associated with the so-called religious/social right. All of that is one reason that the GOP found itself in the tank by 2006. Enough is enough—Murray lost my vote with those slimy last-minute tactics, so I will either abstain in the general or vote for the Libertarian candidate if there is one. I’m just not going to reward the kind of stuff that nearly ruined the GOP over the last dozen years or so. I spent much personal time and effort in Republican conservative politics for 20+ years; one observation I took away from that is that there is a strong correlation between the way a candidate “wins” and how they actually perform once in office. That is, when a candidate wins cleanly and honorably they tend to perform well in office [e.g. Reagan]; but if they have to rely on distortion, religious/social wedge issues, or other low-ball tactics to win they tend to perform poorly in office [e.g. Nixon and Bush]. So, I will either abstain in the general or vote for the Libertarian candidate. As I said previously—enough is enough.

  • Novanglus

    I was undecided until I received that mailer, and it made me vote for Berry. The right-hand column is a list of all the positions that make Murray unelectable in this district in November.

    So we get another two years of Moran. Thanks 8th CD GOP!

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