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By Rachel Weiner
Ilario Pantano knows how to generate headlines.

“Ladies and gentleman, it is time to start offending!” Pantano joked during an appearance on a panel about political correctness and the military during the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month in Washington.

The question for Pantano is whether he can go beyond the headlines — and the controversies that surrounded him during his 2010 race — and win a rematch against North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) next November.

Pantano failed to take down McIntyre despite the national Republican wave as two stories from his past complicated the campaign.

First, Pantano worked for on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs, and, second, he was accused of killing two unarmed detainees while serving in Iraq. (The murder charges were dropped by the military when a witness’ testimony could not be corroborated). Both issues could well come up again as Pantano pursues a rematch against McIntyre.

In 2010, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee used Pantano’s work for Goldman Sachs against him, framing a whole television ad around it.

A prominent tea party activist used it as a reason to support McIntyre.

While Democrats didn’t seek to make an issue out of the Iraq story (and Pantano argues that voters were on his side), but it came up often in press reports on the race. In one ad, Pantano used footage from an NBC interview but cut out questions about Wall Street and Iraq.

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