With just a month to go before primary day in Massachusetts, it’s a good time to issue midterm grades for the gubernatorial advertising campaigns. To determine who should do the judging, we consulted our Decision ’06 Dartboard©, and the winners are: Goofus and Gallant, the civilian version of the standard Democrat-Republican pairing. They might be the only highlight in a thoroughly uninspired political-ad season so far.
POTSHOTS: After a forgettable start, Reilly's getting mean
Life of Reilly
The Ads: Attorney General Tom Reilly kicked off his advertising campaign last month with a series of eminently forgettable résumé-puffing spots that featured factory-installed Democratic themes: the environment, minimum wage, handgun safety, healthcare, etcetera, etcetera. Last week, though, Reilly launched a trio of potshots at Korner Office Kids Mitt Romney and Kerry Healey (who will no doubt soon be united in political matrimony as RomneyHealey).
Reilly’s beef? 1) Their office is the place where jobs go to die. 2) They want to keep the Children of the Commonwealth uneducated and unprepared for the 21st century. 3) They’re taking food and prescription drugs right out of the mouths of the Massachusetts elderly.
Counterpunch: The Healey campaign showered Spin Cycle with a 9335-word rebuttal, and we’ve applied for a federal grant to read it. In the meantime, suffice it to say that Kerry Healey vigorously disputes every aspect of Tom Reilly’s commercials, including the camera angles.
Gallant says: As the only Beacon Hill insider in the Democratic gubernatorial field, Reilly is making lemonade out of lemons by touting his accomplishments as best he can. Running against RomneyHealey in the primary, though, may not be the smartest strategy in the end.
Goofus sez: Book this guy for the next Insomniacs Convention. These ads are the political equivalent of Ambien, without the sleep-walking, sleep-eating, or — paging Patrick Kennedy — sleep-voting.
Cash 'n' Kerry
HEY, BIG SPENDERS: Healey paints the Democrats in a familiar light
The Ads: Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is unopposed in the Republican primary, but her campaign has so much dough, she went airborne last month and will stay up through November. She’s run a biographical ad (I only got rich recently), a “Who Wants to Be a Hundredaire?” ad (I’ll suspend the gas tax and reduce auto insurance), and an ad depicting the Democratic candidates as — surprise! — big spenders.
“We know the legislature loves to spend our money,” she says in one spot, “and my opponents have spending ideas even the legislature hasn’t imagined.” The ad then helpfully tallies up the proposed-spending damage: Tom Reilly, $1.4 billion; Chris Gabrieli, $1.47 billion; Deval Patrick, $3 billion.
Counterpunch: The Gabrieli campaign responded, “Same old, same old. I think we saw this ad four years ago. … Kerry Healey is going to try to run against the legislature, but this year she’s going to have to run on her record.”
Gallant says: Healey is going straight by the book here: position yourself as a normal person and address the lunch-bucket issues that score with independents and Reagan Democrats. Unfortunately for Healey, Soundbite Mitt turns her into presidential arm candy every day in the local papers.