Earlier this month, political watchers in Washington began putting U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon, on their lists of congressional Democrats endangered by a Republican high tide in November.
And every morning reveals more signs of the partisan gulf. For instance, today from NPR:
For the first time since 1930, Republican votes for statewide offices are outnumbering Democratic votes, according to an analysis from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
And Republicans, eager to campaign against Democrats who control the House, Senate and White House, are casting primary ballots at the highest rate since 1970.
So it’s no coincidence that Marshall has cut loose on Republican rival Austin Scott, with a 30-second TV spot that slaps the former state lawmaker for expressing “moral” qualms about a 2006 bill aimed at illegal immigrants:
Marshall: “I’m Jim Marshall, and I approved this message.”
Male voiceover: “Times are hard. And illegal immigrants are putting more of a burden on taxpayers by using public services like hospitals and schools.
“But Austin Scott voted against penalizing illegal immigrants who try to send money out of the country. Austin Scott said he had ‘a moral problem’ making illegal immigrants pay.
“Mr. Scott, what about the moral problem of illegal immigrants breaking the law?”
The legislation in question was HB 1238, a bill that dubbed itself the “Illegal Immigrant Fee Act.”
Introduced by state Rep. Tom Rice, R-Norcross, the measure would have levied a 5 percent tax on cash wired out of the country by any individual who could not prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency.
The bill passed on a 106-60 vote by the House on Feb. 14, 2006. Scott, from Tifton, was one of the few Republican members to vote against it.
The AJC archives has this:
In a speech, Scott said that comprehensive immigration reform is needed, because of the impact illegal immigrants have on crime and public schools.
But Scott said he believes that Rice’s bill would “tax people who are doing the best they can to provide for their families. I’ve got a moral problem with that.”
The measure was gutted in the Republican-controlled Senate, and it has never resurfaced.
When contacted by phone on Tuesday, Scott didn’t want to talk much about the moral concerns he expressed two years ago.
“My reason [for the no vote] was that it exempted bank and credit unions that did wire transfers. I had a problem with making Western Union the enforcer of immigration policy,” Scott said.
One month later, Scott noted, the GOP-run Legislature passed a comprehensive bill aimed at illegal immigration – which he voted for – that was called the toughest in the country. That is, until Arizona passed its measure earlier this year.
“[Marshall] knows he’s in trouble or he wouldn’t be running negative ads 60 days before the election,” Scott said.
But the Marshall campaign says there’s nothing to be read into the fact that this first punch was thrown by the incumbent – that the National Republican Congressional Committee has come after the Macon Democrat so often, one campaign simply blurs into another.