Loose Lips

If D.C. Campaign Ads Were Honest

Politicians aim to be subtle with their TV ads—there's a main message, but there's usually a hidden subtext, too. That's why media consultants make big bucks: Working closely with pollsters, they craft commercials that nudge voters toward one side or the other without hitting them over the head with the theme.

So, without the help of seasoned strategists, we figured we'd make things a little more explicit.

Below, Washington City Paper presents what the ads in the Democratic primary for mayor would look like if incumbent Adrian Fenty and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray were honest about their messages. (And, in Gray's case, the ad he'd run if his campaign could afford TV time.) What if Gray didn't have to hide his message that the incumbent is disrespectful and mean, especially towards the city's politically engaged African American middle class? And what if Fenty could just come right out and admit that he's appealing to newcomers petrified of the scary-seeming past? It'd be more fun that way, right?

Here's our version of Fenty's message:

And here's Gray's:

We'd like to see what you can do along these lines, as well. Between now and the Sept. 14 primary, make your own version of Fenty and Gray campaign ads, put them on YouTube and tag them "Honest D.C. Ads." We'll look them over and publish the best ones on our site.

  • Pingback: The real D.C. mayoral race - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

  • Pingback: Matthew Yglesias » Endgame

  • Pingback: If Vincent Gray Could | DCentric

  • Simon


  • I. J.

    Racist as usual.

  • Petey Mo

    Well done.

  • Simon

    It's so true because none of Fenty's voters have lived here long enough to know who Sharon Pratt Kelly was. Only half of Fenty's voters were even here when Williams was mayor.

  • Hitz

    I love Grays commercial.
    Fenty is a Jerk.

  • tired

    Wow. Should have left Lanier off but otherwise okay. Fenty's ad was sickening

  • DCer

    Getting anything done within a reasonable amount of time in this city requires stepping on toes and angering an entrenched bureaucracy. For too long this city was infamous for inaction, non-responsiveness, horrible schools, rewarding fluff, etc. The opinions of a small group of old-time residents were heard over common sense and the community as a whole making this city a terrible place to do business. (Even today the vestiges continue i.e. the Big Bear.) Fenty values action over pandering. That's why I like him. Lots of so called "activists" love to complain and would love even more to go back to the bad old days. Stopping them is what this election is about.

  • http://.. Marie Jackson


    You sound like a infomercial for the Fenty campaign.

    Lots of so called “activists” love to complain and would love even more to go back to the bad old days. Stopping them is what this election is about.

    This statement is right out of the Fenty talking points paper. At least try something new or is it that you cannot come up with anything that is true or relevant.

    Were you here 20 years ago. What happened during the Williams' administration or was that part of the "OLD DAYS" too?

    GET REAL--support crook Fenty but do not talk about the "OLD DAYS". Is that code for when "BLACKS" were in government?

  • DCer


    The reason you do not want the old days brought up is because you would rather us forget them. I would be curious to know why you have nostalgia for them and why you dislike a leader who has gotten indisputable results by almost every measure. Everyone has faults and when thousands of decisions are made, a few are bound to be wrong, but that doesn't mean you harp on them. When Fenty was elected, I knew he would have to step on toes if we wanted to bring any sort of meaningful change, and I desperately hoped he would. He has delivered.

    Finally, black folks are in government. Fenty is half black himself. Does he act too white for you? Is your issue that he is open to hiring all races and colors, so that he can get the best people in the room?

  • DCer


    Finally, as to your last point about black folks in government: Fenty is half black himself, but does he act too white for you? Is your issue that he is open to hiring all races and colors, so that he can get the best people in the room?

  • Brahmin

    The Fenty people swear Mayor Williams did not exist. He, not Fenty was responsible for the city turning around.

    Fenty actually screwed the pooch on a couple of development deals including the Streetcar, the 3rd street market in Ward 5 and the waterfront projects.

    Fenty is not an equal opportunity hirer. He is an equal opportunity firer. ...Clarky Ray, Alec Evans, Neil Richardson (quit after being force out), Merrit Drucker...all fired by Mayor Fenty. And all non black.

    They were replaced by people who were the assistant of a mid level staff person. I won't name some names---because they truly are really young so that could be crushing but..

    In Gabe Klein example, now the head of DDOT, he was a rental car guy with no planning experience. I was in a meeting with high level planners who just rolled their eyes when DC infrastructure was brought up. Fenty hired for "loyalty" you will give me the opinion I tell you. But I don't blame not one person for taking a promotion.

    It looks racist to blacks because highly intelligent, hard working, very credentials blacks are being asked to leave for very little provocation and replaced with people who should be asking " You want fries with that"

    But Fenty is firing and snubbing a large number of whites as well. There is black white thing but it is more new residents versus old residents.

    May I note Fenty lost the Ward 6 straw poll in Capitol Hill. (I think the media over stretches his White support.)

    (I am starting to understand the true extent of the Fenty dislike. But saying you don't like a black politician when you yourself are not black can be a racial land mine. So you just quietly say nothing and close the curtain and vote for Gray. Honestly, with all the frat brother, corruption charges, and vampire mob lawyer--Fenty may want to tell people Gray=Barry but to them he looks like Barry without the charm.

  • http://cprogrammingtutorials4u.blogspot.com jerry

    nice wonderful explanation i just love it thanx