Try as he might, freshman Rep. Sean Duffy can't live down a remark made months ago that he struggles to pay his bills on his $174,000-a-year congressional salary.
Duffy, R-Wis., and his remark -- made at a town hall meeting in the spring -- are featured in an ad campaign by the House Majority PAC, a Democratic "super PAC" trying to boot Republicans out of the majority.
The political action committee's six-figure ad buy also targets Republican Reps. Dan Lungren of California, Charlie Bass of New Hampshire and Bill Johnson of Ohio for what the House Majority PAC calls votes against the middle class.
"Whether it's lowering taxes for Wall Street, protecting profits for companies that ship jobs overseas or whining about only making $174,000 while middle-class families are struggling, Congressman Duffy will have plenty to answer for back home next November," said Alixandria Lapp, executive director of the House Majority PAC.
Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, slammed what she called "childish political attacks" that take the focus off creating jobs.
"That's where Sean Duffy's focus is," she says. "Sean is working with both sides of the aisle to remove Washington's barriers to job growth in order to get our economy back on track."
The ad targeting Duffy aims at what he says is his favorite meal: steak and sushi.
Duffy, who gained some fame before politics as a member of MTV's 1997 Real World program set in Boston, conceded his words at that town hall meeting "were admittedly poorly chosen." The father of six had been trying to explain that he went without a paycheck for seven months while he left his job as a county attorney to run for Congress.
"I struggle to meet my bills right now," Duffy told a constituent, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Duffy, who won a Wisconsin congressional seat long held by Democrat Dave Obey, is one of the most vulnerable freshman Republicans. He is frequently targeted as part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Drive to 25" campaign, a reference to the number of seats Democrats must win to regain the House majority.