Amy McGrath was supposed to be the great Democrat hope to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2020. Sure, turning Kentucky blue seemed like a difficult task, but McGrath checked all of the boxes. She’d almost gotten elected to the House last year, coming close to unseating GOP Rep. Andy Barr. She’s a former Marine officer. Her star was on the rise. It had all the makings of being upset city.
And then the campaign started and it all went to hell.
There was an embarrassing flip-flop on how she would have voted on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. It turns out her first campaign ad was profoundly misleading, and her advertising people haven’t learned from experience.
The latest McGrath bumble involves her inclusion of two coal miners in a campaign video when they say they were never told footage of them would be used as a political message.
The ad itself is one of the more manipulative pieces of campaign advertising I’ve seen in quite some time. The video opens with a shot of a bus, a bit of sentimental guitar and a drawled voice-over: “It was a 10-hour bus ride. We were coal miners with black lung disease going to see our senator, Mitch McConnell, to try to save our disability benefits.”
Oh lordy. I didn’t know there was still anyone in politics willing to go there anymore. But go there they did:
So as you see, they only allegedly got to see him for one minute. Outrageous. One little problem: At least two of the miners who participated in the reenactment say they weren’t informed it was an attack ad for McGrath.
Albrow Hall and Randy Robbins say they were tricked into appearing in the advertisement, according to The Daily Caller.
Now, they’ve got a lawyer and a beef with the woman who’s likely to be the Democrat nominee in the Kentucky Senate race.
“Both Randy and Albrow were led to believe that the reenactment was being done for a documentary relating the work of the Black Lung Association,” a letter from their lawyer to McGrath’s campaign read.
“They did not know and were never told that they were being filmed for a political advertisement.”
The Wednesday letter claimed that the coal miners were disturbed by the fact they were being used in a partisan ad when they didn’t want to be associated with either the Republicans or the Democrats.
“Randy and Albrow are not partisan political activists for either party. However, they are personally offended at seeing their images being used in a political attack ad that does not reflect their personal feelings or beliefs,” the letter continued.
The letter demanded the campaign“immediately cease and desist from the use of their personal images in any and all advertising and media.”
McGrath’s campaign hasn’t officially responded to the letter, according to the Washington Free Beacon. However, the campaign insisted that everyone was fully informed about the nature of the advertisement.
“All of the miners were fully informed that they were being filmed for an ad and even signed up for McGrath hats and T-shirts,” McGrath campaign manager Mark Nickolas told the Free Beacon. He also called their attorney, Christopher Thacker, a “partisan lawyer.”
Thacker disputed the fact his clients were “fully informed.”
“My clients don’t recall signing any release, and certainly not one making reference to a political campaign,” he said. “They would not have participated had they been aware that the footage was to be used for a partisan ad.”
Mark Brohier, McGrath’s opponent in the primary, used the occasion to score a political jab.
In her ad exploiting Kentucky coal miners, @AmyMcGrathKY asks,”Which side are you on?”
My question to @SenSchumer and the DC establishment is: Whose side are you on – Amy McGrath’s or the Kentucky coal miners she used for political gain?@youngturks @chucktodd @axios @HillTVLive https://t.co/G9lXgTPHnB
— Mike Broihier (@MikeForKY) September 5, 2019
Brohier is a long-shot; it’s pretty much certain that it’s going to be McGrath in the general election. The question is what happens then.
Back in 2014, the Democrats thought they had a chance of flipping the seat. That also turned into a disaster, with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes losing by 15 points after momentarily getting close in the polls.
At least she ran a pretty flawless campaign before stumbling in the debate. If McGrath keeps this up, McConnell will have this sewn up well before any debate occurs.
I have no idea what happened here and I don’t think anyone else has a definitive grasp on it, either. I do know this: If you’re going to film a campaign ad with any group of people, you should probably make pretty darn sure all of those people are on board. Most campaigns don’t find this to be that hard.
If McGrath’s people find this difficult, just imagine flipping a seat in a deep-red state blue.
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