Karyn Hollis, an English professor at Villanova University, just outside Philadelphia, said the same computerized calls had been ringing her telephone as often as five times a day for more than a week.
They all start with a simple, if somewhat ambiguous, statement: “Hello, I’m calling with information about Lois Murphy,” a Pennsylvania Democrat who is the challenger in one of the hottest House races. That opening sounds “kind of positive in tone,” Ms. Hollis said. But the message quickly turns negative, blasting Ms. Murphy’s political views. After she hangs up, the phone rings again later with the same message. And again. And again.
The calls are part of a sweeping telephone blitz that the Republican Party has unleashed in several dozen races likely to determine control of the House in Tuesday’s elections. And the repeat calls to the same homes have set off a new furor over campaign tactics, with the Democrats claiming the calls violate federal communications rules and are tantamount to harassment.
Ms. Murphy, who is running for a House seat in the Philadelphia suburbs, and other Democrats say they have been flooded with complaints from irritated voters who think that the calls are coming from the candidates themselves. Many of the voters had hung up before the message was over, and never heard that it was produced by the Republican party.
Democratic leaders contend that the messages violate federal rules that require groups making automated calls to identify themselves right at the outset. And the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has financed the calls, agreed on Sunday to quit making some of them in New Hampshire, where a state law limits who can receive computerized phone messages.
Ed Patru, a committee spokesman, said the phone campaign complied with federal law and was “drawing contrasts” between the candidates. “There’s no statutory requirement that our phone calls be complimentary to Democrats,” Mr. Patru added.
Federal filings indicate that the committee has spent about $2 million on phone calls over the last week. . .