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No real surprise here: Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s campaign has two new ads out today, attacking Vincent Gray‘s time as head of the troubled Department of Health Services in the 1990s.
Fenty has been attacking Gray’s leadership of DHS for weeks at various mayoral forums, saying Gray’s mismanagement of the department helped speed the city off a cliff and into the arms of the appointed control board. Usually, when he breaks out that line, Gray’s supporters go wild with boos, and Fenty retorts with, “The truth hurts.”
Now, thanks to the Scrooge McDuck-like money he’s raised for the campaign, Fenty can bypass the boobirds and beam that message directly into voters’ living rooms. The ads aim to remind people of the city’s woes of more than a decade ago, and scare them out of any thought they might have of voting for Gray. Also of note: The Fenty ads prominently feature The Washington Post‘s recent endorsement of his campaign. There’s a not-so-subtle attempt in the ads to appeal to the newer (white) voters Fenty needs to win; at the same time, the substance of the charges he makes—that Gray failed the people his department was supposed to serve—isn’t particularly targeted. For a negative ad, it seems like a safe play: Instead of talking about Gray’s waffling on DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee like Fenty did in this morning’s TBD TV debate, the ads skip right past mention of a figure who sometimes seems like Fenty’s running mate, but who isn’t exactly universally beloved here.
Watch the ads, and hear the Gray campaign’s radio ad responding to them, after the jump.
Watch the first Fenty ad here:
And the second one here:
The Gray campaign, meanwhile, was prepared for the onslaught. Aides immediately replaced their existing one-minute radio ad with a new one bashing Fenty for going negative. “The community has asked Mayor Fenty for help, but he hasn’t listened,” the ads say. “Now Mayor Fenty is running ads attacking Vince Gray. But Vince Gray understands that there are too many people in D.C. wondering where their next paycheck is going to come from.”
The Gray campaign also released this statement, from senior strategist Mo Elleithee:
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. But the fact is his negative ads won’t help one District resident get a job, won’t help one District kid go to college, won’t help one District neighborhood feel safer, and won’t answer ANY questions about the $82 million in city contracts he’s granted his cronies and fraternity brothers. 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.