But there are two problems. First, the sheer volume of messages — however skillfully presented — threatens to overwhelm the voter and dilute the potency of any given point. And second, the actor who plays Segal has since endorsed — you guessed it — Segal.


Segal's first spot, "Nobody's Puppet," is probably the most inventive of the primary season. It starts with a series of handheld puppets making dubious sales pitches. A green puppet in a doctor's coat, holding a package of rubber bands and standing before an x-ray says: "A couple more of these rubber bands and you won't even know it's broken." Another done up like a hair dresser holds up a batch of highlighter markers and asks, "Highlights?"

"You wouldn't hire a corporate puppet to do any of these jobs, so why would you elect one to Congress?" says Segal, touting his record of standing up to banks, utilities, and "corporate developers" on behalf of families.

The ad, produced by Providence videographer Luke Harris, is clever in its messaging. But it is not a home run. Segal's somewhat awkward delivery cuts into the ad's effectiveness a bit. And there is a larger issue.

Segal has run as an unabashed liberal. And his wear-it-on-the-sleeves approach, however admirable, makes it difficult to appeal to voters beyond the left wing of the party. The same could be said of the spot.

The campaign's second ad, which attacks Cicilline on "First Source," is not quite as successful as the first — marred by lower production values and hamstrung, a bit, by the complexity of the issue. And as one of three Democrats chasing the leader, it's unclear how much of the benefit will redound to Segal. Still, he gets credit for raising some doubts about Cicilline.


Businessman Anthony Gemma's first commercial, "Hope Starts With You," features a multi-ethnic collection of Rhode Islanders holding the letters H-O-P-E and speaking to camera: "Hope starts with me," "Hope starts with you," or "Hope starts with us."

A crooner then belts out a rather corny tune: "I am hope, you are hope." And Gemma, whose marketing company Media Peel produced the spots, closes by saying, "I want to reinvent and reinvigorate public service for the 21st century."

The spot is meant to introduce a relative unknown, but leaves the viewer with no clear impression of the candidate. A new commercial does a bit better, with Gemma highlighting a familiar Rhode Island lament: a parent's fear that his kid won't be able to get a job and make a life in the state.

Not a terribly new idea, but it does resonate with some of the older, traditional voters he's courting. And it's got a cute appeal from Gemma's son at the end: "Vote for my dad."

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