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I’m going to start a “heated up” watch.


“Heated up” is the most overused lead in political news coverage.  It’s a cliché reporters resort to all too often when candidates attack.


So I’m going to call out any uses of “heated up” I see in political coverage.


The latest sinner is an excellent reporter, Mark Johnson of the Charlotte Observer.  He wrote this lead in Tuesday’s paper:


“The typically overshadowed race for lieutenant governor heated up Monday when two of the candidates for the Democratic nomination tussled over core issues for their party: abortion rights, death penalty reform, affirmative action and pollution control.”


How would you write it differently?  Try this:


The old “wedge issues’ that Republicans once used against Democrats are back: abortion rights, death penalty reform and affirmative action.  But this time a Democrat is using them against a Democrat in the typically overshadowed race for lieutenant governor.


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