Larry Joe Doherty's Mitt Romney Connection

Democratic congressional candidate's finance chair held a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate.

The first real evidence of mudslinging thus far in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 10 has popped up, although there’s no evidence that it came from a candidate. Vince Leibowitz of the Capitol Annex blog made a post on Jan. 8 noting that Larry Joe Doherty’s finance chair, Jim McIngvale – aka “Mattress Mac” of Houston TV commercial fame – crossed party lines by hosting a reception in December for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And to boot, the fundraiser was hosted by Austin/San Antonio Republican Congressman Lamar Smith.

Leibowitz also cross-posted the revelation to the widely read Burnt Orange Report blog, which set off a flurry of responses both attacking and defending Doherty. One poster tarred Doherty as “McCaul lite” – Michael McCaul is the three-term Republican incumbent – which brought an online defense of Doherty from former District 10 candidate Lorenzo Sadun, who wrote, "I prefer Grant to Doherty, but the main thing is beating McCaul," and, “On the issues, the two candidates are very close, and are miles apart from McCaul."

Doherty quickly showed he can defend himself, as well. He responded directly to Burnt Orange Report, “My friendship with Jim McIngvale was forged over shared experiences with family health care challenges, not politics. We may be from different parties, but we both continue to be vocal on the need for mental health care reform.

Doherty was far more pointed on Thursday afternoon, when I ran into him at a forum featuring Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Rhett Smith, Rick Noriega, and Ray McMurrey. Noting that McCaul is vulnerable but loaded with cash, Doherty asked, “Do they want a purity test for money? Anybody that naïve doesn’t deserve to be allowed to have political commentary. They ought to go to school and study something."

“We are proud of our support from Jim McIngvale,” Doherty continued. “He’s a long-time, long-term Democratic Party supporter. [McIngvale’s critics] just hadn’t researched the record. He and his wife both have a track record of Democratic Party support.”

Asked if he thought the flap might cost him votes in the primary, Doherty replied, “Not amongst the informed voters.”

Later at the same event, his opponent Grant told me, “I don’t have any objection to people getting money from Republicans at all. I’ve had Republicans who believed in my race, believe in me, and maybe think it’s time for change. But if in my situation, if my finance chair were actively attempting to elect a Republican to the presidency and doing it conjunction with Lamar Smith, I would respectfully ask them to do it separately from my campaign, just because it creates a conflict of interest.”

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Elections, Election 2008, Larry Joe Doherty, Jim McIngvale, Mattress Mac, Dan Grant, Michael McCaul

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