Yesterday, we gave Mayor Mike McGinn a "B" for his first campaign ad which featured El Centro De La Raza leader Estela Ortega (identified only by her name, not her organizational affiliation) praising McGinn for getting the Families and Education Levy passed. (Note: we were grading on a curve; so far this season, the ads aren't very impressive. We gave Ed Murray's ad a C.)
This morning, McGinn rolled out an almost identical cable ad to his first one (part of his original $60,000 ad buy), this one featuring Democratic Party activist Pat McCoy. Sitting in front of the same gloomy black curtain as Ortega, McCoy credits McGinn with passing the city's 2012 library levy.
As Shining-like shots filmed inside the downtown library flash by, McCoy intones, "What if we had a mayor who made sure our libraries stayed open? Ensured that we increased our collection of books? Who made sure we unlocked our library doors on Sundays? [Editor's note: True, but only for four hours; and many branches are still closed on Fridays.] What if we had a mayor who knows that libraries are one of our city's most treasured resources and fought to protect these anchors of our community?"
After a screen flashes saying McGinn "worked to pass the Library Levy with over 60% of the vote," McCoy concludes, "We do. And his name is Mike McGinn." Finally, the mayor himself makes a brief (and silent) cameo, in the same still photo of his family that appeared in his first ad.
Once again, it's an ad filled with strange choices. As with his first ad, this second outing from McGinn gives the mayor credit for an already-popular measure that voters, not the city, passed; doesn't include any speaking role for the mayor (both his opponents' ads prominently feature the candidates speaking directly to the camera); and poses the election as a question of "what if we had a mayor who..."—a frame that seems to imply Seattle needs a new mayor, not reelect the old one.
And then there are those creepy library shots.
City basics like education and libraries probably do appeal to older voters, who tend to dominate in primary elections. As for us, we'd be more impressed if the mayor himself defended his record promoting and passing legislation, rather than taking credit for the outcome of public elections. (McGinn consultant John Wyble says the campaign may roll out more similar ads or may change things up, depending on how the ads perform).
And with all his boasting about his success at the polls, it's worth noting that one big election issue that voters actually associate with his administration, the downtown tunnel, was a major loss for the mayor. In the 2011 tunnel referendum, voters overwhelmingly opposed the mayor's anti-tunnel position, voting approximately 60-40 (the same margin McGinn touts as a major victory on both education and libraries) in favor of moving the project forward.