Be sure you have your smelling salts handy before you watch the bottom ad, because it is the kind of ad that Maggie’s campaign manager was calling “negative, divisive, and deceitful”. It is a bog-standard anti-incumbent ad, highlighting the number of times Slaughter voted for a House pay raise, and calling out every time that Slaughter voted to raise taxes (one of the votes was in 1993, so Maggie really revs up the wayback machine in this ad). As with Louise’s ad highlighting the issues in Maggie’s tenure as County Executive, these are for the most part all facts, except when Brooks characterizes cap and trade as a massive tax hike, which is false.
Louise Slaughter sets the tone I think we were all expecting with this ad. It’s a laundry list of Maggie Brooks’ scandals. As far as I can tell, it’s accurate, and the Brooks campaign hasn’t disputed the content. Let’s see what Curt Smith says:
Political commentator Curt Smith, a former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, said Slaughter is using the same approach and citing the same issues that Sandra Frankel did when she lost to Brooks last year. He said it’s early for such an ad to appear. “I’m somewhat surprised it is being tried by Louise knowing the approach has failed,” Smith said.
An early negative campaign works when two factors converge — a vulnerable incumbent and an unknown challenger, said Smith and Lovett. Incumbents will jump the gun to depict challengers in a negative light before they can define themselves. But that’s not the case in this race, Smith said.
“The voters do know her opponent,” Smith said. “By and large, every poll and election result shows that voters don’t think of Maggie Brooks as a dishonest person.”
While there has been no recent public polling data on the race, “I think she senses trouble,” Smith said of Slaughter.
This sorry horseshit passes for “analysis” in the Democrat and Chronicle. Curt seems to forget, as usual, that the demographics in this race are completely different from the Brooks/Frankel contest. Of course, data is not Curt’s strong point, so, also as usual, he just makes up “trouble” out of whole cloth, even though no independent polling of this race has been released.
As for the bit of conventional wisdom that negative campaigns only work in the most rarefied of instances, donnez moi un break. The term “negative campaign” is so broad as to be meaningless, and it ignores the substance of the ad.
So let’s put away our smelling salts and look at the content of the ad in the context of this race. Brooks has been running almost entirely on her record as County Executive. Slaughter can either ignore that, and therefore tacitly agree that Brooks’ tenure as County Exec recommends her for Slaughter’s job, or Louise can disagree with it. Obviously, Louise disagrees, and this ad is the form her disagreement took. That’s why they call it a “campaign”, instead of a “cotillion” or a “Sunday drive in the park”. I expect we’ll see something similar from Brooks in the future. If it is as accurate as this ad, I think the voters in Monroe County will survive.
The US Chamber of Commerce is out with an ad reminding us that that Slaughter voted for Obamacare:
The CSEA is out with an ad reminding us that Maggie Brooks opposes Obamacare:
As with any ads released to the media and embedded in web pages, the question is whether they’re released to get some free media, or if someone’s going to pay to run them on actual TV stations. The CSEA ad is just red meat for its members, so I doubt it will be aired anywhere. The Chamber claims that it is buying some ad time, but my guess is that this, too, is a symbolic ad buy.
Update: Sean Carroll of 13-WHAM wrote to say that the Chamber ad is up and running in Rochester, certainly against Kathy Hochul from neighboring (current) NY-26.