Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Sublimal Campaigning By Long-Thompson?

    Over the years I've made or helped make a few television campaign commercials. None are in the TV Hall of Fame. None were even nominated for such a distinction. I did keep one off the air someone else made with a major factual error that the candidate acknowledged might have cost him the election had it run in a visible statewide race.  But I'm no expert. Still, even as a journeyman closer to novice than professional, I'm thunderstruck that Jill Long Thompson's campaign is running a commercial with a bystander wearing a T-shirt boldly proclaiming: "Property of the USW (United Steel Workers)."

    I confess I saw it during a recent re-run of the Bruce Willis movie "Die Hard" on TNT.  At first I thought the black shirt with white letters worn by a "worker" right behind her said, "Property of the UAW (United Auto Workers)."  But the second running -- after Bruce was beginning to right things more toward the good guys -- revealed it was the Steel Union with this steely branding for her commercial.

     For someone struggling to show Hoosier support -- either in the polls or at her events or most profoundly in her fund raising reports -- you'd think she shy away from T-shirts proclaiming a weakness, real or perceived, in an early television commercial. Remember, she's paying to air these ads.

     Campaign records show her largest donor is the Service Employees International Union -- $400,000 June 27; $200,000 Dec. 31st;  $100,000 May 1 and then again on June 25. With other, smaller gifts, it has provided at least $825,000 of her total $3.8 million campaign fund (21.7 percent). Emily's List, a Washington, D.C.-pro-abortion (I didn't mean to say pro-choice here) group also sympathetic to union causes, provided contributions of $100,000 on Feb. 15, Feb. 29, April 12 and then $50,000 each on June 20 and June 26.  That's $450,000, or 11.7 percent.  I'm told 52 percent of her contributions are from out-of-state groups, and that a full 45 percent of her donations came from gifts of $10,000 or more.

     It seems an odd way to invest in campaign television commercials, which candidates generally view as their single most important medium to get the message out. But maybe she had to include that as a "truth in campaigning" disclosure.

      Any way, Bruce saved the day.  I don't know if he was a union or non-union, off-duty, out-of-jurisdiction cop saving the day, but the commercials that brought me the movie were certainly bought and paid for by the unions. One wonders what else they are buying and selling this campaign season.

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