D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds' campaign went after Republican Patrick Mara for receiving a $1,000 check from a Tea Party group. But she was a little late.

In an email Friday titled "Mitt Romney on the D.C. Council," Bonds' campaign manager, Kouri Marshall, wrote that Mara "is receiving the support of extreme right wing groups from around the country including the Freedom's Defense Fund, which is best known for it's $250,000 support of Todd 'Legitimate Rape' Akin."

For political watchers, the campaign email -- coming three days after another candidate, Elissa Silverman, mounted a similar criticism -- was unexpected in the race for the at-large seat up for grabs on April 23. Within an hour of Silverman's campaign email Tuesday, Mara's campaign announced it had already sent the $1,000 check back to Freedom's Defense Fund, along with a letter noting Mara's opposition to some of the group's positions.

Bryan Weaver, a past council candidate, praised Silverman for raising the issue Tuesday and Mara for sending back the check. Weaver objected, however, to the most recent volley, meant to highlight Mara's conservative credentials to a predominantly Democratic electorate.

"To link him to Todd Akin and the rape comments is kind of silly and pretty offensive to most voters in Washington," Weaver said. "Pat's to the left of many of the Democrats on the council."

Fellow candidate Paul Zukerberg, a Democrat, also condemned the newest salvo against Mara.

"I think it's a totally unfair shot. I don't think Pat solicited that contribution, and he gave it back," Zukerberg said. "I don't think Pat did anything wrong. I think he handed it appropriately."

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Matthew Frumin, also running for the at-large seat currently occupied by Bonds, defended the most recent round of criticism.

"It does say something about the kinds of people that are supporting him," Frumin said.

Republicans have had a tough time getting elected in the District. In the 2012 presidential election, more than 90 percent of people casting votes in D.C. went for President Obama.

"It really does matter that for the first time a Republican can win the seat," Jermaine House, a Bonds campaign spokesman, wrote in an email when asked for comment for this story.

Mara brushed off the latest attempt to emphasize his chosen political party.

"Voters from all parties and independents have supported me in the past," said Mara, who goes against the Republican Party line on issues such as gay marriage and D.C. voting rights. "They have heard these kind of attacks. They were meaningless then and are meaningless now."