Boom Goes Louise’s First “Negative” Ad

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.

Obamacare Ads, Pro and Con

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.

CSEA Video

The CSEA, which is a AFSCME chapter representing State of New York workers, has released this video encouraging everybody to ask if Maggie Brooks is campaigning on Monroe County’s dime. Of course, the same question could be asked of Louise Slaughter, who will also be doing her day job while running for Congress.

The difference between Maggie and Louise is that Louise must follow the rules set out in a 400-page House ethics manual [pdf]. If CSEA wants to make this an issue, one way to do it would be to find the Monroe County ethics rules and tell us how Maggie could be violating them. I can’t find the ethics standards on the County’s website, even though a new ethics training program was announced with much fanfare shortly after the ROBUTRAD scandal broke. Perhaps the CSEA could FOIL that manual and let us all know what it says.

Issue One: Slaughter’s Age

When a 57 year-old challenger takes on an 82 year-old incumbent, one of the issues is the health, vitality and intellect of the incumbent. So, let’s rip the band-aid off of this one right away and ask whether Louise Slaughter is still on her game.

I’ve been looking for video of Slaughter at an unscripted event where she’s under some stress, and this was the best I could find. It’s a news conference in Buffalo in September, 2011. She’s quick on the draw, doesn’t reach for words, responds to a wide variety of questions with a fair amount of humor, and doesn’t get snippy. If Slaughter demonstrates this level of energy and ability in September, 2012, I doubt that age will be an issue in this race.