Years before Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West of South Florida was famous for calling about 80 members of Congress "communists", he was famous for something else far away from the partisan wars in Washington D.C.
Lt. Col. West initially became famous for his treatment of an Iraqi detainee, when he fired his gun over his head trying to extract information from him in 2003. West was ultimately fined and retired from the Army. While he said his methods weren’t right, he also defended himself:
"If it's about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can," he testified.
He moved to South Florida, started to speak to locals about his Army experience and the brash-talking black Republican launched his Congressional bid. His campaign drew scant attention in 2008, but two years later, amid a tea party spirit and anger about the economy, a well-financed West ousted U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.
In 2012, redistricting transformed the Broward/Palm Beach Congressional District 22 from a swing district to left-leaning, so West moved his campaign to safer conservative territory, specifically the newly drawn District 18, which spans parts of Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties. Based on voter performance, this could be close: These voters narrowly went for George W. Bush in 2004 and narrowly for Obama in 2008.
West is now far ahead in an expensive campaign war with a 29-year-old political newcomer and Democrat, Patrick Murphy, whose wealthy family owns a successful construction business. PolitiFact checks two dueling character ads in this race -- one about Murphy's drunken arrest when he was 19 and the other about the end of West's military career. The ads are biting, but are they true? Read PolitiFact's analysis.