The Democratic made-for-TV campaign

Rob McCord claims he took on Gov. Corbett, but he got an assist.
Rob McCord claims he took on Gov. Corbett, but he got an assist.
Posted: April 10, 2014

OK, DEMOCRATIC voters, time to tune in.

All four Dems running for guv now are running TV ads.

They cost lots to make, more to air. They represent everything - the image, ideas and direction - candidates are selling.

Every element of every ad is tested with focus groups. Everything you see, every word you hear has a purpose.

By their ads ye shall know them.

So since such ads in a state the size of Pennsylvania are critical to outcomes, let's take a look at what's airing now.

Allyson Schwartz is up with a spot called "Got It Done."

It's about her efforts to get a state law providing health insurance for children of working parents unable to afford coverage.

Schwartz, who's served in Congress since 2005, was a freshman state senator when the Legislature passed and Gov. Bob Casey signed the law in 1992.

In the ad, she speaks from a podium telling an audience, including kids, "I pushed, and I pushed hard, and we got it done."

She also says, "It's the kind of big ideas . . . I'll bring as your next governor."

Let's assume more "big ideas" are forthcoming. Otherwise, viewers might wonder if she gets one every 22 years.

Also, the ad represents a walk-back from earlier suggestions that Schwartz essentially gave birth after hard labor to the kids' insurance law.

This is reminiscent of Al Gore's "initiative in creating the Internet."

Will Democratic voters be drawn to Schwartz by nostalgia for good state legislation, or by her now no longer pretending to be more than she was?

Rob McCord is up with an ad named "Drilling."

It notes that he's the "only Democrat" with a plan for a 10 percent tax on natural-gas drilling to fund schools and environmental protection.

The three other candidates also call for such a tax, though at a lower level.

The ad also says McCord fought Gov. Corbett by opposing the guv's since-dropped plan to contract a British firm to manage the state lottery.

A narrator intones, "And McCord won."

It's true McCord opposed the deal, saying that, as state treasurer, he wouldn't approve payment to the Brits unless legal questions were settled. But Attorney General Kathleen Kane effectively killed it, ruling in February 2013 that the privatization contract was unconstitutional.

This is a bit like McCord claiming he and LeBron James combined for 61 points last month against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Still, McCord's spot has a good tagline: "If you're looking for someone to take on Tom Corbett, Rob McCord is the only one who has."

The only thing to make it better would be adding "along with somebody else."

Katie McGinty's ad "Middle Class" is about, well, guess.

She talks to camera in front of various backdrops about being from "a working family," wanting to create "middle-class college scholarships" and raising the minimum wage, "including for restaurant workers," to help people get into the middle class.

The ad has appeal. Problem is her TV budget is also "middle class."

And Tom "Mr. TV" Wolf?

Still at it. After running ads seemingly since summer, his latest spot features his adult daughters, Sarah and Katie, waxing on about how Dad raised them to believe women can do anything men can do.

Wolf then addresses someone offscreen saying it's wrong that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work: "We've got to do better. There's really no excuse."

The spot's clearly aimed at women inclined to vote Schwartz or McGinty.

But what about Wolf's cabinet-supply company, the Wolf Organization, which has no women on its seven-member board?

Wolf's campaign says the company has a review process to prevent pay disparity based on gender or race. And in a January debate, Wolf said although his board includes no women, his "management team" does.

The Wolf Organization website shows two women on the 19-member management team.

So enjoy, you Dems. Just remember lots of this stuff is made for TV.


Email: baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer

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