Just when a tight U.S. Senate race between Virginia incumbent George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb seemed as though it couldn't get any zanier (the latest mudslinging has involved racy passages from one of Webb's novels), new drama ensued this week.
A blogger who contributes to the popular liberal site DailyKos says members of Allen's campaign staff assaulted him after he attempted to approach the senator (a la "Roger & Me") at a Tuesday campaign event in Charlottesville, Va., and called out questions about Allen's first wife and their sealed divorce records. Local news cameras captured footage of Mike Stark, a 38-year-old former U.S. Marine who is currently a first-year law student at the University of Virginia, as he was being grabbed, put in a chokehold, and tackled to the floor by an unidentified man. (Allen's official campaign blog maintains that Stark's "own hostile, aggressive behavior" started the conflict--and purports to have photographic proof.)
Stark went on to file a complaint with the local police department, which is now investigating the incident and has subpoenaed videos from local television stations that filmed the scene, Richmond station WRIC-TV reported Thursday morning. The episode has since escalated into a flurry of he-said, she-said, particularly among political bloggers.
Blog community response:
"I've coordinated with nobody. I am a private citizen. I am a constituent of the senator's. And I am a person concerned about the trajectory of our country. I've attended public Allen events on my own initiative."
--Mike Stark on Huffington Post
"George Allen is a bully, a stupid bully. Stark shouldn't have been touched. Defending those who did was insane"
--The News Blog
"It'd be funny if it weren't so friggin' pathetic. No, wait--it's both funny and pathetic. I hope Stark becomes a millionaire at the expense of the Macaca campaign."
"It seems very clear that Stark has nothing better to offer Virginians than childish taunts and personal attacks, just the kind of electoral tactics that Virginians have witnessed in abundance in this cycle. Stark wants to emulate Michael Moore, but at least in 'Roger and Me,' Moore had a reasonable motivation; he wanted to confront Roger Smith about factory closures in Flint that put a lot of people out of work. Stark wants to know about marital spittle."
--Captain's Quarters blog
"Congratulations, Mike. You've now reached your 15-minute limit. You will forever be remembered as the guy who got himself thrown out of a political rally by middle-aged volunteers. Let us know how that enhances your life."
--Sons of the Republic blog