Empathy has never been a strong suit of Republicans. Pain is good for you (emphasis on you), they think. Tom Cotton’s voting record demonstrates. But sometimes toughness backfires.

Republican Stacy Hurst, a Little Rock House candidate, stepped in it with her ham-fisted scheme to use opponent Clarke Tucker’s 4-year-old son as a political weapon. I’ve nominated Hurst — for this and for her disdain for the constitutional right to legal counsel — as the most despicable campaigner of the season.

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I might have spoken too soon. Independence County Tea Party Republicans may be giving Hurst a run for her money. They’ve apparently aired a commercial attacking as “idiotic” an ad jingle for Democratic House candidate Lackey Moody by his daughter, Kate, 10. It has prompted a whale of a response ad.

CORRECTION: I wrongly attributed the response ad to Senate candidate James McLean.

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The speaker is Scott Lancaster, a lawyer and general counsel for Bad Boy Mowers. He didn’t take the ad lying down. He taped this ad and ran it for Friends of Kate Moody. His blast delves into broader issues of health insurance expansion, which the Tea Party of Independence County is fighting. You want idiotic, he asks? Do what the Tea Party wants — gut health care, put people out of work and take away their insurance. He closes: “Kate, you can write a jingle for me anytime.” He says the best for Independence County is to vote for James McLean for Senate and Lackey Moody for House.

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You can hear Kate’s jingle here.