Vince Gray's ill-advised piety on negative ads
After Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's long-predicted move to air negative ads attacking his record earlier this week, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray responded immediately.
Gray strategist Mo Elleithee spun it thusly: "After spending nearly $3 million 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."
The Gray camp also struck back with a radio spot and a web video of his own.
The spot features headlines such as "CITYWIDE UNEMPLOYMENT AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH"; "ROBBERIES AND SEXUAL ASSAULTS ARE UP OVER LAST THREE YEARS"; and, oh yes, "$82 MILLION IN CITY CONTRACTS" -- featuring an (admittedly fabulous) picture of Fenty fraternity brother Sinclair Skinner with a big smile on his face and a cocktail in his hand.
Umm ... isn't this a negative ad? You know, "what most politicians do when they find themselves struggling"?
I will only mention in passing the campaign's first video ad, since withdrawn, that took a WRC-TV report out of context to slam Fenty. And I won't talk about, in great length, the zest with which Gray has tossed out accusations of cronyism and malfeasance while pledging to be a conciliating, consensus-building guy bringing us together as "one city."
Elleithee defends the ads: "For a guy who has spent his entire political career bemoaning the use of negativity -- to begin engaging in it is very telling. To do it on the same day that he's pledging to be nice, play nicer, is very telling."
Fair enough. I don't want to feign naivete here. Politics is a wonderfully gritty business, and the self-proclaimed angels too often have dirty faces. Stuff like this signals we're solidly in the "silly season" -- the time in the campaign horse race when candidates hit the stretch, gallop hard and throw up the muck.
August 13, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
Categories: Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray
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