Fenty debuts negative ads, targets Gray's DHS record
As widely anticipated, Mayor Adrian Fenty's re-election campaign is debuting a pair of television ads taking direct aim at challenger Vincent Gray.
Both ads begin with a Gray quote taken from a July 15 WPFW-FM radio debate: "I put my record up against his on any day."
What comes next should surprise no one familiar with Fenty's campaign-trail rhetoric -- a trip back to the 1990s.
"Okay, Mr. Gray," says a female narrator over ominous music. "As director of the Department of Human Services in the early '90s you were responsible for over $1 billion dollars, but your daily mismanagement and your department's incompetence pushed the city to the brink of bankruptcy." A photo of Gray fades into black-and-white as Washington Post headlines are flashed across the screen. "We can't afford to go back to those bad old days," the voice says before the music brightens and pictures of Fenty smiling hit the screen. Fenty's recent Post endorsement is prominently featured.
Another ad is similar: "With a record number of D.C. children sleeping on the streets, you turned down million of federal funds to give them shelter," the narrator says, citing Washington Post accounts.
The 30-second ads are the first time in Fenty's political career that he's had to resort to attacking an opponent's record.
Gray strategist Mo Elleithee responds in a statement: "After spending nearly three million dollars on his campaign so far, Adrian Fenty has nothing to show for it. So he does what most politicians do when they find themselves struggling -- run negative ads. ... Maybe if he spent less time on attack ads, and more time producing a plan or vision for the future -- which he has yet to do -- his campaign wouldn't be struggling."
Negative ads were no elixir for Linda Cropp in 2006, who sent out mailers in 2006 highlighting an incident where Fenty was disciplined by bar authorities for mismanaging an elderly man's estate. Cropp's campaign had been floundering beforehand, and Fenty cruised to a sweeping primary victory anyway.
"We're really trying to highlight the contrast between the two candidates," says Fenty campaign spokesman Sean Madigan. Like the 15-second ads he's already run, he says, Fenty's new ads will start running Thursday on a variety of cable and broadcast outlets.
According to a campaign finance report filed late Tuesday night, Fenty has spent more than $1 million on advertising in the past two months, paying Minnesota-based North Woods Advertising more then $180,000 to produce a series of ads. North Woods produced the new spots as well.
August 11, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories: Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray
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