The Mayor has launched the third in what has become a series of attack ads that take a page out of Stephen Harper’s electoral playbook. An article in North Coast Review includes a copy of the ad, which is in the print edition of the Northern View.
The formula is quite simple. Avoid issues, platforms that can come back to haunt the candidate or vision statements. Focus on the personal characteristics of the main opponent and brand them with simplistic negative labels. Launch the attack early to shape first impressions, which are always the most lasting. Then reinforce the message through repetition.
I don’t think that it was lost on anyone that Lee Brain was the target of the first two ads. The conclusion to be drawn from the first ad was that he is a 'Beginner" (larger font, underlined, in bold) and hence, we are lead to believe, cannot do the job, so don’t vote for him. That of course forgets that the Mayor was himself once a beginner in elected office and may be getting a bit stale after several years in office. The ad also said that this is not the time for “a new horse”, for readers who relate to farm yard analogies. The second ad repeated those messages (minus the horse analogy) for emphasis.
The third ad is quite different. It repeats the ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’ statements in case they have been forgotten, but brings “personal behaviour”, “respect” and other character traits into play.
What’s that all about? Is there a mystery candidate, not yet announced, who is not a “Beginner”, who has obvious knowledge and experience, and can do the job, so the focus has to be shifted elsewhere? The first ad, after all, came out before Mr Brain announced his candidacy. A couple of names of very credible former council members have been tossed around as possible candidates. Is that what the change in messaging is about?
There is something not quite right, a bit unsettling, about references to “personal behaviour” and “respect”, just as there is something not quite right about having Mounties appear in the Mayor’s third campaign ad (the RCMP is supposed to be non-political).
The North Coast Review article also comments on Lee Brain’s campaign to date. His campaign messages can be found by googling ‘Mayor Lee Brain’, as if he’s already been elected to the top job. A more traditional and less presumptuous banner like “Lee Brain for Mayor” might sit better, particularly with older voters.
After some initial excitement not much seems to be happening with Mr Brain’s campaign. “Re-Think Prince Rupert” is still an empty box. Voters usually (or used to) look to candidates to provide a platform about what they think the future should include, or at least something more than a notice on a twitter feed that the 6th Avenue bridge is open for motorists, with an exclamation mark to indicate excitement.
I’m sorry to say this, but at this point I don’t think Lee Brain is going to make it. My prediction is that the Mayor’s attack strategy, which says nothing about issues and makes the campaign entirely personal, will win out.
That could change, though. Hopefully the Mayor’s latest ad signals that a stronger candidate for mayor is soon to announce their candidacy. Rupert is a place where there are insiders who are in the know before the public at large is informed. I would not be surprised if the third ad is intended to preempt an announcement by another candidate, much like the first ad was released just before Mr Brain announced his candidacy. I hope that’s what the latest attack ad signals.
It would not take a lot for a candidate to show more substance than what the two declared candidates have shown to date. Maybe a candidate who has a bit more class and even some old-fashioned humility will enter the mayoralty contest.
Anyway, enough of what I think, here’s a link to the story about the Mayor’s latest attack ad: < northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … -from.html >.
A story with screen shots of the first two ads can be found here: < northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … dates.html >.