A negative wind in Aiona vs. Abercrombie
The contest for governor between Duke Aiona and Neil Abercrombie has turned negative, but in an ever-so-gentle manner.
The Republican Governors Association has been running a series of “Rise & Shine Hawaii” TV spots presenting positive views of Aiona’s positions on education and other issues.
The RGA’s latest ad goes negative for the first time, but I have to say it’s the nicest negative ad I’ve ever seen.
It starts out expressing appreciation for the Democrat Abercrombie’s 35 years in politics, showing a picture of him in his Sunday best with his blue blazer and neatly trimmed hair and beard.
The announcer goes on, “We appreciate his service, but not how he’s voted. Abercrombie voted for higher taxes on Hawai‘i families, the bailout, failed stimulus — bonuses for Wall Street executives.”
Cut to somewhat grungier picture of the former congressman and the question: “In this economy, Mr. Abercrombie?”
Then comes a picture of a beatific looking Aiona and the announcer’s soothing assurance: “Fortunately, Hawaii has a choice we can afford. Duke Aiona will oppose tax increases and create jobs. A smart, independent leader. Duke Aiona for governor.”
Very mild as far as negative ads go, and a clear sign of the sensitivity to negative advertising in the race after the huge backfire of Mufi Hannemann’s “Compare and Decide” in the primary.
It reminds me of advice in the book “Etiquette for Outlaws” on what to do if you feel a bout of flatulence coming on while at a party. The advice is to find somewhere semi-private to cut a test fart, see how bad it smells and gauge from that if it’s safe to let loose back in mixed company.
This ad was the political equivalent of a test fart to see how much negativity the electorate will tolerate, and it’ll be ramped up until blowback is encountered.