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VOTE 2010: Cook Political Report - NC 7 race closer in Republican column



As we inch closer to November 2, the non-partisan Cook Political Report has moved the NC-07 race between GOP Challenger Ilario Pantano and Rep. Mike McIntyre closer to the Republican column. In the past weeks, Cook has moved the seat from “Safe Dem” to “Likely Dem,” and now to its current rating of “Lean Dem.”

This race is trending towards Republicans and quickly falling away from the Democrats.

Cook’s House Race Editor David Wasserman writes that Pantano has “set the district and DC abuzz” and “the 7th CD is in for an unprecedented wild ride.”

From the Cook Political Report:

NC-07 Mike McIntyre (D) Likely Dem to Lean Dem
Lean Democratic. One of the more surprising targets of the NRCC’s latest ad buy is McIntyre, whose very conservative voting record has earned him token opponents and huge margins in this GOP-leaning Wilmington area district. But if McIntyre’s campaigns are usually boring, the GOP nominee has set the district and DC abuzz and has won over a powerful mentor, NRCC Chair Pete Sessions. The son of Italian immigrants, Ilario Pantano grew up in Manhattan, became a commodities trader for Goldman Sachs in New York, then went back into the Marines after 9/11 and fought in Iraq, where in 2005 he was charged with premeditated murder of two Iraqi prisoners. The case never went to court-martial for lack of evidence, and instead Pantano was cited for desecration of a corpse for hanging a sign reading “no better friend, no worse enemy” above their bodies. Pantano subsequently wrote a blockbuster book on his experiences by the same slogan, appeared on the Today Show, and has become something of a star deputy sheriff on the Wilmington police force.

To say the least, this campaign is a contrast in styles. Embracing a “shock and awe” campaign strategy, Pantano actually calls himself a “hardcore national security hawk” and a “Jack Bauer Republican” who is fighting his “third war,” this time for the “soul of the country.” McIntyre is a mild-mannered Blue Dog who brings back local projects from his Appropriations perch. In another year, Pantano’s take-no-prisoners approach and over-the-top rhetoric might be a deal-breaker, but this year it poses McIntyre and Democrats a dilemma. So far, McIntyre has stuck to hitting Pantano as a pro-Fair Tax tea partier who has glossed over his Wall Street past, well aware that attacking Pantano on his murder charges would amount to a gamble with many military voters who live near Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg. But as both candidates wage million dollar campaigns and Pantano closes in on McIntyre’s lead, Democrats will have to decide whether or not to “go there.” A September SurveyUSA poll showed Pantano ahead 46 percent to 45 percent, but most internal polling shows a modest McIntyre edge. This race leans Democratic for now, but the 7th CD is in for an unprecedented wild ride.

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