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Some incumbent Democrats brag of work to secure funds for constituents

If you missed any of this year's primaries -- or just forgot -- here are the names and faces you need to know in November.

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By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 30, 2010; 12:42 PM

Voters say they're fed up with big government, but do they really mean it?

Some Democratic incumbents are betting not. "Nevada to get $57 million to help avoid foreclosures," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on his campaign blog this week.

The money was awarded from the Treasury Department's "Hardest Hit" fund, created by the Obama administration to assist people who can't pay their mortgages. Reid lobbied for the program and has sought maximum assistance for his state, the country's leader in foreclosures. "This boost in funding is great news for Nevada homeowners who are still struggling to stay in their homes," Reid exclaimed.

The next entry on his blog: "Washoe schools receive $9M grant," a Reno Gazette-Journal headline about a Department of Education award to bolster teacher training.

Democrats like Reid who are battling for reelection in a hostile, anti-Washington year are being pulled in two directions. They must show that they understand why people are angry and are serious about lowering the deficit and changing the bailout culture that has taken root with the recession. But there's great power in incumbency, especially over federal purse strings. So why not brag a little about how you've used it?

A new television ad from the Reid campaign boasts of a regulatory change the senator secured that saved jobs at Anderson Dairy, a 100-year-old Las Vegas area business. "Because of Senator Reid, we continue to stay in business," Anderson's David Coon says in the ad. "He really came through for us."

One local columnist mocked the Anderson deal as "a government pailout." But for Reid, it's a way of reminding Nevada voters that Sharron Angle, his tea party-backed GOP opponent, can't match his clout. Or as the closing frame of the Anderson ad reads, "No one can do more."

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) narrowly escaped a Democratic primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who mocked her as "Bailout Blanche" for supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Running far behind her GOP general-election opponent, Rep. John Boozman, Lincoln is touting her status as Agriculture Committee chairman, a perch that gives her control over billions in federal pork.

In late August, Lincoln secured a commitment from the Obama administration to provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief for cotton and rice farmers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. She has been hard at work for other sectors, too. On her Senate Web site this week, Lincoln announced $1.4 million for the Little Rock airport; $495,000 to expand nursing education at a local community college; $468,000 in local library renovations; and $100,000 for a motorcycle safety program.

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), a member of Democratic leadership, is locked in a tight race with a Republican Dino Rossi, who declares on his Web site, "I'm running for the U.S. Senate because our country and our economy are in trouble because of too much spending, debt & government."

Murray puts it this way, "In these tough times, every penny counts."

This week, she announced a $1.1 million dropout-prevention grant for the Sunnyside school district; $1.98 million in subsidies to medical students at the University of Washington; and $960,000 to train primary-care doctors at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.


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