Politics isn’t just business — it can get personal. There’s no better reminder of that fact than House and Senate elections, where some campaigns are willing to pull out any and all stops in order to secure a win. 

These midterms haven’t disappointed. In a year where arrests, nasty accusations, personal attacks, and misleading advertisements have all been perpetrated in the name of politics, here are the top five nastiest campaigns.


Mississippi Senate Republican Primary: Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBooker to campaign for Dem in Mississippi Senate runoff Hyde-Smith dismisses comments about making voting harder for liberal students as a joke Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP MORE (R) vs. state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R)

McDaniel’s challenge to Cochran became the cause célèbre of primary season for conservative and Tea Party Groups. With the help of Democratic crossover voters, Cochran survived the runoff by less than 8,000 votes, which caused McDaniel to launch a series of failed legal challenges with accusations of voter fraud.

But the run-up to the election proved as controversial as the conclusion. Four McDaniel supporters were arrested in connection with allegedly sneaking into the nursing home room of Cochran’s infirm wife to take pictures of her. One of the supporters later committed suicide.

 The campaigns and their allies filled the airwaves with brutal ads. The Now or Never PAC attacked Cochran with an ad that included a quote from the senator joking that he enjoyed “doing all sorts of indecent things with animals” while growing up. And a Cochran ad slammed McDaniel for using vulgar language and making jokes about a woman’s breasts on his radio show. 

CA-52: Carl DeMaio (R) vs. Rep. Scott Peters (D)

DeMaio’s campaign has been at the center of serious sexual harassment allegations by a former aide, who the campaign claims broke into its headquarters after he was fired and stole sensitive material. The aide levied a slew of allegations against DeMaio ranging from the crude to disturbing and appeared on CNN to discuss those claims. Prosecutors told the AP that they will not file charges. 

DeMaio has blamed Peters for pushing the accusations and claimed that he’s been targeted because of his sexual orientation. In an interview with The Hill, Peters said that he’s letting the voters draw their own conclusions. During a recent debate, Peters confirmed that his campaign received materials that were most likely stolen from the campaign. The campaign says it immediately forwarded it to the police, but DeMaio chided Peters for not previously telling him about that incident and he walked off the set without shaking Peters’ hand.


NE-2: Rep. Lee Terry (R) vs. state Sen. Brad Ashford (D)

The National Republican Congressional Committee hasn’t pulled any punches in Nebraska, painting the airwaves with controversial attack ads slamming Ashford as weak on crime. The first alleged that Ashford failed to strengthen the state’s sentencing laws after a criminal left jail early and killed four people. That ad was panned as “racist” by former RNC chairman Michael Steele and drew the ire of national Democrats. In an odd twist, that convicted murderer recently yelled his support for Terry during a court appearance. Another ad bashed Ashford’s plan to remove low-risk sexual offenders from the public registry.

In response, Ashford and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have both repeatedly hit Terry over comments he made surrounding the 2013 government shutdown. Terry previously told a reporter that he needed to keep the salary he made while Congress was closed in order to pay for his son’s college and his “nice house.” In a sea of grim hopes for Democrats, this is one Republicans fear they could lose on Election Day. 


IA-SEN: State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) vs. Rep. Bill Braley (D)

Any race that opens with an ad about castrating hogs is bound to get exciting —and the Iowa Senate race certainly hasn’t disappointed. 

The Braley campaign used a baby bird to accuse Ernst of not saying a “peep” while in the state Senate. But he’s been dogged by birds of his own, as Ernst claimed in a debate that Braley “threatened to sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto [his] property.” While the website PolitiFact didn’t find evidence of a legal threat, it did confirm a disagreement between Braley and his neighbor over the chickens. That’s been enough for the Ernst campaign and her allies to slam him for being out of touch and unnecessarily hostile towards his neighbors.  


KY-SEN: Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Democrats gear up to challenge Trump in 2020, the key political divide will be metropolitan versus rural McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report MORE (R) vs. Ken. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D)

There’s been no love lost between Grimes and McConnell, the Senate minority leader who is in the fight for his political life. The two have exchanged a slew of personal attacks over family history, their Kentucky-chops, and who is a stronger supporter of Kentucky’s coal economy.

Much of the election’s unpleasantries have stemmed from that last issue, as the two candidates engage in an “anything you can do, I can do better” war over who’s best for coal. The Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, slammed Grimes over an ad that claimed McConnell received $600,000 from “enemies of coal,” calling the charge “likely the worst ad of a nasty campaign year.” Fact-checkers have taken issue with some of McConnell’s ads as well, and he received criticism for a tense radio interview on a popular Kentucky sports show. The show’s host later called McConnell “needlessly angry and combative.”

Grimes's campaign has filed suit to prevent McConnell's campaign from distributing a mailer it says is intended to suppress voter turnout.