Trusting the testimonials in Harris/Kratovil race
At least 650,000 people live in the 1st Congressional District, which includes the Eastern Shore and portions of Harford, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties. Of those registered to vote in a political party, just under half are Republicans, which is a lot for Maryland. Of those, at least three quarters who turn out to vote will likely cast their ballot for state Sen. Andy Harris, who beat incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest in a primary.
So with tens of thousands of Harris supporters out there, why does it appear hard for him to find fans to appear in his television commercials?
The Harris campaign has been fond of the "person on the street" testimonial-type advertisement.
They used one during the primary, to attack Gilchrest as too liberal and out of touch with the district.
"He's changed," says a beefy guy wearing a hoodie, standing in front of a Hyster forklift in a warehouse.
"He votes for big spending," complains the young woman with a blond bob haircut and a red sweater, standing near a deli counter.
They're using another one now, to attack Democratic nominee Frank Kratovil.
"Just too liberal," says a beefy guy wearing a hoodie, standing in front of a Hyster forklift in a warehouse.
"He's a big spender," says the young woman with a blond bob haircut and a red sweater, standing near a deli counter.
Huh? Tivo, do we have a problem?
The beefy guy and the blond woman are the only two of several speakers -- all anonymous -- who appear in both ads. Other cast members mention either Kratovil or Gilchrest by name, and are therefore unique to that commercial.
Neither spot is overly convincing in its realism. You'd have to be pretty thick to believe these were voters chosen at random on the streets of Salisbury or Easton, giving unscripted views of politicians.
But still, isn't there something dishonest about giving viewers the impression that a "real person" is criticizing Kratovil, when in fact they may have been talking about Gilchrest? Or, for that matter, they may talking about some generic opponent that Harris was always going to run to the right of, and brand as "too liberal."
The Harris campaign denies that it is being deceptive. "These individuals believe Frank Kratovil is a liberal," says Harris campaign manager Chris Meekins, although he would not disclose the names of the two speakers to Maryland Politics, or provide contact information.
"They've already said what they want to say publically," he said.
The Kratovil campaign said the testimonial ads -- and another Harris released today which they say misuses a Kratovil quote that had been corrected by the newspaper that originally published it -- together "demonstrate a profound lack on integrity." (More on that new ad to come, so check back later.)
You, blog readers, can decide for yourself. Watch the two ads, and let us know what you think.
Here's the commercial slamming Gilchrest:
Here's the spot against Kratovil: