I’m not sure whether Pete Hoekstra’s Super Bowl ad can be labeled racist, offensive or insensitive — those are moving targets in an election year, when sensibilities shift on the winds of opportunity.
Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer, for example, pioneered the tactic of China-bashing in Michigan politics, and yet here is is crying foul when Hoekstra mimics him.
But the ad was really strange. It wasn’t clever enough to work. And it had a smarmy undertone reminiscent of the “Liberal Debbie” campaign Republicans tried against Sen. Debbie Stabenow six years ago. Voters didn’t respond then, and they won’t to Hoekstra’s “Sen. Spenditnow” silliness.
This ad cost Hoekstra a ton of money. He should have used it to tout his own strengths, to introduce himself to voters. That’s what then-gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder did with his Super Bowl buy in 2010.
Football fans caught up in the excitement of the big game aren’t in the mood to watch another negative political ad. Hoekstra was a buzz kill.
He’s getting bad advice from someone if he thinks he can defeat Stabenow solely with an attack strategy. Voters don’t just vote against, they vote for, and Hoekstra has to give them a reason to vote for him.
Even the Silverado ad that took a little shot at the Ford F150 spent most of its time talking about the swell stuff in the GM truck.
The Super Bowl spot was an opportunity for Hoekstra to brand himself. He did. But not in a good way.