ANCHORAGE - Candidate Jake Metcalfe hears it almost every day as he campaigns for Congress.
"One guy said to me, 'Oh, you're that guy that never has anything good to say about people,"' Metcalfe recalled last week. "I asked him what he meant, and he said, 'All you ever do is say bad things about Mark Begich and Ted Stevens."'
Mistaken identity has become a thorn in his campaign. People constantly confuse him with Ray Metcalfe, who is running for the U.S. Senate while throwing political grenades at his opponents, Sen. Ted Stevens and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
"It's frustrating because I'm not taking the positions that he's taking," Jake Metcalfe said.
Both Metcalfes are middle-aged guys who live in Anchorage and are running as Democrats. They're not related and the similarities pretty much stop there.
Jake Metcalfe is running for the U.S. House seat long held by Republican Don Young. He grew up in Juneau and was a state prosecutor in Bethel. He's been a labor lawyer, School Board member and head of the state Democratic Party. Other Democrats in the race include Diane Benson, who ran against Young in 2006, and former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz.
Ray Metcalfe is a real estate broker and former Republican state legislator who founded the Republican Moderate Party. He's been best known in recent years for compiling allegations against political figures, including Stevens, his son, former state Sen. Ben Stevens and Begich. He says he's not about mudslinging; he says he is pointing out dirty deals and corruption.
Ray Metcalfe is running against Begich in the Democratic primary for Stevens' Senate seat.
Ray Metcalfe said he's heard Jake Metcalfe on radio call-in shows where callers thanked Jake for his work fighting political corruption. He said Jake had to explain that's Ray.
"I'm amused by it," Ray Metcalfe said.
Ray doesn't see a problem for his campaign. He thinks he's better known than Jake.
"If anything, he's going to contribute to making me more famous," Ray said.
Jake said he's well-known in Anchorage but people elsewhere or who haven't been in the state long can get mixed up. Fellow Democrats sometimes link his name to Ray's anti-Begich statements and Republican Moderate Party activism.
"There's some hesitancy there," Jake Metcalfe said. "I do have to explain myself. And after I'm able to do that it usually tends to be a more productive conversation."
He's branding himself as "Jake" to try and cut down the confusion. On his Web site, Jake2008.com, there's hardly a mention of his last name on the main page. His signs will simply say "Jake," he said. He conceded having two Metcalfes running for federal office isn't entirely a negative.
"I think it has both good points and bad points, in the sense that my name is the paper more," Jake Metcalfe said. "But that's not me."
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