Seattle Mayor's Race 2013

McGinn's New Ad: "I Believe in Seattle"

Mayor Mike McGinn debuts a new ad with the theme, "I believe in Seattle," one week before the ballot deadline.

By Erica C. Barnett October 29, 2013

One week before the deadline for mailing ballots in to King County Elections, Mayor Mike McGinn debuted a new TV ad during last night's Monday Night Football game (savvy planning given that the Seahawks were playing—they beat St. Louis). The theme: "I believe in Seattle." The campaign spent $80,000 on the cable buy, currently the campaign's sole TV spot. (Challenger Ed Murray did not have an ad on during last night's big game, by the way.)

In the 30-second ad, which features McGinn standing in front of the Seattle skyline (as opposed to the stark black background featured in his previous ads), McGinn rattles off a list of things "I believe in," including: preschool for every kid, building transit, paid sick leave and gender pay equity, paying for parks with a soda tax (a challenge to Murray, who has rejected the idea), and stopping coal trains.

McGinn concludes: "You know what I really believe in? I believe in Seattle. I believe we can be a multicultural city that lifts everyone up." 

It's a solid ad, with a positive message, that outlines clearly what McGinn is for (and subtly makes the point that Murray hasn't laid out his own, similarly specific, agenda). 

But it lacks a crucial component, if you believe polls that show voters consider Murray more qualified to actually get things done: McGinn needs to identify specific accomplishments.

Instead of pointing to what he's gotten done, McGinn's ad focuses on his aspirations—like a challenger, not a four-year incumbent.

Some of McGinn's list consists of still far-off promises and guarantees that aren't McGinn's to give: Universal preschool is years in the future; the soda tax is a campaign issue that McGinn didn't include in his own budget; and coal trains can only be "stopped" at the state and federal level. 

Others are promises on which McGinn failed to deliver or accomplishments that should be credited to other officials: McGinn's campaign promise to build rail to Ballard and West Seattle has been delayed; paid sick leave was the work of council member Nick Licata, not McGinn; and the gender pay gap is worse in city government (and McGinn's own office) than in the city as a whole. 

In fairness, McGinn has followed through on some of the items he ticks off in the ad, including gun-free zones (in which businesses put a sticker on their door saying guns aren't welcome) and "plowing snow" (a great line, by the way, which gets a brief giggle from McGinn)*. But for the most part, the ad is purely aspirational—a liberal-friendly to-do list for a second term—a problem when you have a reputation for not delivering on your progressive agenda in the first place.

* Great line, but technically wrong: Greg Nickels caught hell during the 2008 snowstorm because he plowed the roads instead of salting them. 
Show Comments