Elephant in the Room?

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  October 13, 2010

Bielat and his campaign team have also been avid social-networkers; he has more than 3500 followers on Twitter. By contrast, Frank has tweeted exactly once, in June 2009, in characteristic style: "I have now one ambition: to retire before it becomes essential to tweet."

But all the national attention won't necessarily help Bielat win votes in the district. Frank's campaign team believes his lead is at least double the 10 points of Bielat's poll. And, campaign spokesperson Harry Gural says, Bielat needs to dance between courting money from rabid ideologues who watch Sean Hannity and listen to Levin, and courting votes from a moderate district that wants to hear about local industries and concerns.

As in the 10th District, Social Security has been a key issue; Frank initiated a series of back-and-forth open letters calling out Bielat on his apparent support for benefit reductions, including raising the retirement age. The congressman has also been pounding Bielat's support for keeping troops in Afghanistan — also mirroring a Keating line of attack on Perry.

It hasn't helped that reporters have discovered that Bielat's first major TV ad, showing "man on the street" criticisms of Frank, featured pre-selected Bielat supporters — and was filmed in part outside the district.

Bielat has also done little to introduce himself to the bulk of his district's voters — at least, those who don't tune into conservative media. And there's not much about his résumé or ideas that stands out as a potential congressman. "If this guy was running against anyone else," Gural says, "it would be completely off the radar."

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com.

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