We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The new 60-second ad from Mayor Adrian Fenty’s campaign is a classic of the genre: Candidate talking to the camera, acknowledging what voters don’t like about him, promising to change—and making any alternative seem even worse.
“When I was growing up in D.C., politicians made nice speeches, told you whatever you wanted to hear,” Fenty says in the opening line. “The problem is, nothing worked.” Sitting on the stoop of a rowhouse, Fenty seems like one of the District’s own again. He knows he’s made mistakes: “Going forward, I’ll learn from them, and be more inclusive.”
The dagger aimed at D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray is implicit; the spot doesn’t even mention Fenty’s opponent. But it’s there. “What I will never do is go back to the ways of the past,” Fenty says. The message of the ad, essentially, is this: It’s Fenty or the 1990s.
The spot seems designed to motivate Fenty’s base of mostly white, mostly new arrivals to the District, while also planting seeds of doubt in the minds of black middle-class voters who are open to—but not certain about—voting for Gray. Campaign aides haven’t yet replied to an inquiry about how often the ad is running, or on what stations, but we’ll update when they do. UPDATE: Fenty spokesman Sean Madigan says the ad will be running on broadcast and cable stations, and that a 30-second version will begin airing this weekend, as well.
Also, Gray campaign strategist Mo Elleithee e-mailed reporters with these thoughts:
It’s ironic that Adrian Fenty starts off this new ad by bemoaning politicians who tell people what they want to hear. That’s exactly what he’s doing.
Apologies are nice. Everyone loves a politician who apologizes. But apologies only work if they’re believable, and his isn’t.
He says he’s going to learn from his mistakes, but he is still defending the $82 million in contracts to his cronies. He just blocked a bill that makes vote-buying a crime. We’re still seeing stories every single day about mismanagement and abuse in his administration.
And when people ask him to explain the cronyism and mismanagement, he doesn’t apologize. He DEFENDS it, and attacks anyone who questions him.
So, you’ll have to excuse anyone who doesn’t take his apology seriously.
It’s going to take more than an apology by the Mayor to change people’s perceptions of him. They don’t want to just hear an apology – they want to see him change the way he does business.
And if his actions over the past few months are any indication, it appears that his unwillingness to put an end to cronyism and mismanagement in the Mayor’s office is the only thing that’s truly “non-negotiable.”
That’s why, despite Fenty spending millions of dollars on television ads, the most recent polling shows Vince expanding his lead.