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Jun 29 / Elizabeth DiNovella

Attack Ads Against Baldwin

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched its video ad against Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin.

The NRSC is the official committee of the Republican Party devoted to electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate. Its biggest funders are Goldman Sachs, Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, Home Depot, Exxon Mobil, and Perry Homes.

The video features Baldwin at the rallies of last year, with lots of grainy, footage of protesters (and police officers) running around the capital. While these incidents made up a small portion of the actual uprising, it doesn’t matter. It’s about framing the debate. And right now, democracy is not a bunch of people running around the capital. To the rightwing and corporate interests behind the NRSC and the Republican Party, democracy looks like Scott Walker’s landslide election.

The video also has Baldwin saying that chilling word: “solidarity.”

To independent voters, this ad could play very well. Many people in the state, especially in areas outside of Madison, have very negative connotations of last year’s rallies. Unless you were there and participated in the peaceful demonstrations, this ad confirms what you probably already believe.

As Jim Cavanaugh, former president of the South Central Federation of Labor of Wisconsin, wrote in one of the best recaps of the recall, “Ordinary Wisconsinites outside of Madison have a very negative view of this city of large government office buildings, a fairly high standard of living, and liberal politics. Walker simply exploited an existing bias.”

If the frame worked once, it can work again. So the NRSC is playing the fear of freaky Madison card again.

In the e-mail announcing the video, the NRSC wrote, “Tammy Baldwin does not want you to see this video. It tells the shocking story of Tammy’s extreme liberalism and leads us to the undeniable conclusion that we must nominate the best candidate to defeat her in November: Tommy Thompson.”

The e-mail continues: “If you haven’t seen it—it’s a viral video waiting to happen. If you have already watched this, I can’t imagine how you’d watch it again and feel anything other than fear of hearing the words ‘Senator’ and ‘Tammy Baldwin’ muttered together.”

The NRSC’s video comes on the heels of the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity’s $400,000 ad buy against Baldwin. That ad also hypes Baldwin’s record and paints her as a tax and spend liberal.

The saddest part about these negative ads it that they may actually work. Again. The Republicans won’t know who their candidate is till the mid-August primary. But the latest polls show former governor Thompson handily beating Baldwin.

And if Thompson wins in November, the political transformation of Wisconsin will be complete. Within two years, the state may go from having two Democratic Senators, a Democratic governor, and both statehouses controlled by Dems to having two Republican Senators, a Republican governor, and quite possibly both statehouses controlled by Republicans. And not just moderate Republicans, we’re talking very conservative ones.

2010-2012 marks a sea change in Wisconsin politics and Baldwin may not be able to fight the political tides.

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