After finishing a disappointing second to Sen. Dan Patrick in the March 4th primary, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had a choice to make in his runoff campaign. He could have continued to tout his record and the success of Texas under his leadership or he could go down the path that he tried against Ted Cruz and try to scare people into voting for him because Cruz was da debbil. After weeks of nothing from his campaign, his decision was made clear yesterday. From the headlines:
- Dewhurst ad hits Patrick as slippery, self-serving | Dallas Morning News
- Dewhurst TV ad hits Patrick for “walking away” from old business debts | Dallas Morning News
- Underdog Dewhurst attacks Patrick’s financial troubles | khou.com Houston
- After nearly silent, Dewhurst goes on the offensive against Patrick – Houston Chronicle
- Quorum Report: Dewhurst releases TV ad against Patrick: The Mother of all Debt
- Dewhurst fires first ad salvo at Patrick since primary – Houston Chronicle
Okay, that should give you some idea of what happened yesterday. This from Bob Garrett of the Dallas Morning News should help even more:
The 30-second TV spot depicts Patrick as slippery and self-serving.
“If he can’t run his own business honestly, how could we ever trust him to run the state honestly?” a woman actor says.
With the ad, Dewhurst has gone “straight to the gutter,” said Patrick strategist Allen Blakemore. It unspools “a string of lies, half-truths, and a rehash of events from 30 years ago,” he said.
As a Dewhurst supporter, I’m disappointed that he chose this route because I don’t think it will work. This isn’t a “contrast” ad, where Dewhurst points out one of his strengths compared to one of Patrick’s weaknesses. It is a rehash of very old history about Patrick, some of which isn’t even true. Like the statement that Patrick changed his name to “hide from his debts”. Utterly ridiculous – I’ve known of or known Patrick since 1979 and I’ve known that his birth name was Goeb most of that time. The name change was probably for ballot purposes because his broadcast name was the way most people knew him. It certainly didn’t relieve him of his financial responsibilities.
The rise of the “tea party”, along with multiple channels for information delivery, has fundamentally changed the Republican primary in Texas in regards to negative advertising like this. There are simply too many ways for candidates to respond to an “air war” such as Dewhurst is engaging in, especially considering that the small percentage of voters in a primary are the most informed voters in the state. Negative advertising via broadcast television isn’t going to sway the majority of those voters. Patrick’s consultant, Allen Blakemore, has already countered with a rebuttal and has received about as much coverage as the original ad has.
Like I said, I’m a Dewhurst supporter, so I hope it works in that regard. But as someone that despises this type of campaign, and as someone that is not scared of the possibility of Dan Patrick as Lt. Gov., I admit to being more than a little ticked off at the direction Dewhurst chose.
Why, I ask, couldn’t the Dewhurst team have found a way to exploit Texas’ success under his leadership? For instance, did you know that the caricature of Texas as a low-wage job creating state is false? Don’t believe me, read a report from the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve:Texas Leads Nation in Creation of Jobs at All Pay. Even the Washington Post, in this article by Niraj Chokshi, has to admit it:
Underestimate Texas at your own peril.
You might be inclined to think that the Lone Star state is bad at creating good jobs. It is, after all, second only to Idaho in the proportion of its population earning the federal minimum wage or less, according to the Labor Department. And it has the ninth-highest Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality. So it’s only natural to assume that the state is bad at adding good jobs, right? Wrong.
Texas experienced stronger job growth than the rest of the nation from 2000 to 2013, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Not only that, a pair of researchersnote in a Thursday research publication, but Texas leads the nation in creation of jobs at all pay levels, too.
“Texas has also created more ‘good’ than ‘bad’ jobs,” they write. “Jobs in the top half of the wage distribution experienced disproportionate growth. The two upper wage quartiles were responsible for 55 percent of net new jobs. A similar pie chart cannot be made for the rest of the U.S., which lost jobs in the lower-middle quartile over the period.”
Seems to me that Dewhurst could have used this information to remind voters of who he is instead of spending millions on telling people some negative information about Dan Patrick that has nothing to do with Patrick’s tenure as a state senator.
Oh well. BTW, hat-tip to Texas Monthly’s Erica Grieder for tweeting the links to the Dallas Federal Reserve report and the Washington Post article. You can follow her Twitter feed here: @EricaGrieder.