MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Republican super PAC is attacking Democrat Joe Radinovich in a new ad launched Wednesday that characterizes the Minnesota House candidate's prior violations such as speeding, driving with a suspended license and parking tickets as "crimes" and says he spent his life running from the law.
The ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund says Radinovich has been charged with 18 crimes, more than 30 traffic violations and "possession of drug paraphernalia."
"Fast times. Broken laws. Joe Radinovich isn't fit to serve in Congress," the ad says.
Radinovich's court record does show more than 30 violations since 2004, but nearly all of them are traffic violations. More than 20 of those were for parking illegally or parking at an expired meter. There were four speeding tickets and three instances of driving with a suspended license. Several of the parking tickets were referred to a collection agency for payment.
The drug paraphernalia citation stems from a 2005 incident in Crow Wing County in which Radinovich was also cited for failure to signal, according to online court records. Radinovich, who was 18 at the time, was issued a citation in that case. The court record says that the citation was "continued for dismissal." A message left with the Crow Wing County attorney in an effort to get more details about the case wasn't returned Wednesday.
Radinovich is locked in a tight race with Republican Pete Stauber in the largely rural 8th District that stretches from the northern ex-burbs of Minneapolis to the Canadian border. The seat was held by retiring Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and national political analysts consider it one of the best chances for Republicans to flip a Democratic seat.
Radinovich's campaign called the claims in the ad "egregious" and "disgraceful," saying it falsely portrayed unpaid parking tickets as crimes and misrepresents a marijuana-related citation that Radinovich received as a teen. Campaign manager Meredith Raimondi said Radinovich took responsibility for his actions and officials dismissed the charges.
"It's disgraceful that Pete Stauber and his Washington special interest friends are looking to slander Joe and twist his life story around for political purposes," Raimondi said, adding. "Joe knows that folks in the 8th District aren't interested in Washington special interests spending millions of dollars to slander a teenage mistake and buy a seat for Pete Stauber."
Radinovich served one term in the Minnesota House and worked as chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey but left that post when he decided to run for Congress. He managed Nolan's 2016 campaign.
The ad began airing Wednesday on television stations in the Minneapolis and Duluth media markets, as well as on digital platforms throughout the district. The ad is part of the group's $3.7 million total ad reservation for the fall.
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