Texas Governor Greg Abbott has promised to spend $100M to defeat Beto O’Rourke, his Democratic opponent this November. That’s plenty of money to paint yourself and your record as governor in white light while diminishing your opponent at every turn.
The Texas GOP has zero qualms about going negative. For the GOP, making attack ads is simply what you do, without hesitation.
In just one minute of spliced and diced video footage, Beto is painted as a person who puts his foot in his mouth, and worse, he’s for gun control, immigration reform, and a woman’s right to choose. The horror!
To me and others, what’s horror-inducing is choosing to cast O’Rourke supporter and former Texas State Senator, Wendy Davis, as a monster. For the intended viewer, it’s a desperate reach for humor. For everyone else, it’s just another piece of trash made with mal intent and bad taste.
Drill, Drill, Drill (It Into Their Heads)
Beto is facing an opponent who will do whatever is necessary to win. Running TV ads is necessary and in recent days, the Abbott campaign has announced nearly $20 million in ad buys, emphasizing its massive financial advantage.
Here’s another attack ad from Governor Abbott that seeks to make the “Green New Deal” (which Beto supports) seem like a virulent form of communism from the 1950s.
What about Beto’s capabilities as a chief executive? The governor’s team just needs to create doubt for ‘X’ number of voters, and ads like this help to do that.
This staffing ad hits a particularly foul note because it exposes the institutional weaknesses of the Democratic Party. Everyone knew Beto would run, especially Beto. Likewise, everyone knew that the GOP would raise and spend big money in their efforts to hold power.
Unfortunately, Beto is now asking his supporters to help him get his message on TV while feigning surprise that Abbott is moving fast and furious to buy air time for the fall season.
Hard Questions for Today’s Democratic Candidates
Do Democrats know how to hit back? Or are they somehow special and therefore above the fray?
Do Democrats value strategic planning? Or do they prefer to run on a wing and a prayer?
I’d rather not ask these questions. I’d prefer to have them answered by a savvy team of Democratic operatives focused on winning, and by candidates who skewer their GOP opponents, as needed, and who don’t idealize their own virtues.
Running for office is not a popularity contest, it’s a battle for power. The obviousness of this fact does nothing to diminish its truth.