By Curt Woodward, Associated Press Writer
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Patty Murray was stuck. Down in the polls for months and facing a well-known Republican challenger, the three-term Democrat was finding a difficult market for her hard-working-Senator sales pitch.
Then she started bashing Wall Street.
Now, less than a month before ballots are distributed in Washington's vote-by-mail election, Murray is apparently benefiting from some old-fashioned class warfare. She has gone from essentially being tied with challenger Dino Rossi to leading in the latest round of polls, proving that the 2010 Democratic campaign theme of linking the GOP to Wall Street greed can resonate with voters.
Murray, a three-term incumbent, started running anti-Wall Street TV ads shortly before the August primary, criticizing Rossi's advocacy of repealing new Wall Street regulations. She began airing another anti-Wall Street commercial this month, followed 10 days later by an ad that pledged support for middle-class tax breaks over favors for big business.
Voters in several competitive Senate races are hearing similar arguments.
Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak and Republican candidate Pat Toomey have sparred over allegiance to the financial sector — Sestak supported the federal bank bailouts, while Toomey once worked in investment banking.
In Missouri, Democrat Robin Carnahan has criticized Republican Rep. Roy Blunt for helping to negotiate bank bailouts and then opposing Democrats' new Wall Street regulations.
And in a debate earlier this month, California Sen. Barbara Boxer tore into the $21 million severance package that Republican challenger Carly Fiorina received after she was let go as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co.