Because It's Never Too Early For A Little Illinois Mudslinging ... UPDATE: Jay Footlik Weighs In

Put this story in your “it’s never too early to go for the low blow” file: The blogosphere has been abuzz this week after Andy Lappin, a supporter of Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, played the anti-Semite card against the two Democratic challengers vying to take the lawmaker on in 2008.

Lappin sent out an email slamming Dan Seals and Jay Footlik – a former Clinton aide who is Jewish, with an Israeli-born wife – for attending this month’s YearlyKos convention: “What’s troubling is that Seals and Footlik speak to our community with one mouth and then run to a convention filled with anti-Semitic bloggers,” Lappin wrote in the email.

The whole episode could be easily dismissed as just a lot of partisan nonsense, if it weren’t for the fact that the Jewish vote could well prove decisive in a Kirk-Footlik match-up. The district is heavily Jewish, and Kirk has in the past enjoyed wide support from the Jewish community.

Last cycle, when Kirk took on Seals, who comes from an partially African-American background, his Republican backers worked the Democrats-bad-for-Israel angle. Then Kirk came under fire, as my colleague Rebecca Spence reported, when one of his supporters allegedly threatened to punish Tel Aviv University because one of its top American donors was backing Seals.

UPDATE: In a chat this afternoon with the Forward, Jay Footlik dismissed Lappin’s charges as “ludicrous,” while pushing hard on the theory that it was motivated by fears over Footlik’s Jew-cred.

“They don’t want to run against me…because they know he’s going to have a tough time holding on to a vital and important constituency,” Footlik told the Forward.

He added that last time “[that strategy was] partially successful and they won. And they’re not going to do it against me.”

Here’s the copy of Lappin’s e-mail:

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Because It's Never Too Early For A Little Illinois Mudslinging ... UPDATE: Jay Footlik Weighs In

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