Republican candidate for attorney general Jack McMullen is up with two new TV ads: one taking incumbent Democratic AG Bill Sorrell to task on crime and the other faulting him for personally arguing a campaign finance case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Though McMullen declined to reveal how much he's spending to air the two ads, he said he's raised $50,000 from contributors thus far and loaned his campaign an amount "in the low six figures." He added that his campaign could pay back the personal loan if it succeeds in raising more money.
According to McMullen, the ad focusing on crime will run for several weeks — possibly through the election — and replaces an earlier biographical ad. It features footage of two somewhat preppy-looking drug dealers handing off the goods, as well as a still shot of an older woman with purple bruises below her eye and on her lips. Here, watch it for yourself:
According to McMullen, crime is "the key issue in the campaign." Asked if the imagery in the ad is catering to fear, he said, "It's not like we're going over the top. This actually happens ... These people aren't inhibited by moral restraint."
McMullen said he wasn't sure of the provenance of the image depicting the beat-up woman, nor whether the bruises are real, but he said, "We wanted graphic images of what actually happens... We thought it was representative of the kind of things that happen."
McMullen's advertising team has also produced a third ad, which briefly mentions and features a photo of Fred Tuttle, the Tunbridge farmer and star of the film Man with a Plan who famously defeated McMullen in the 1998 Republican primary for U.S. Senate. That ad, which mostly focuses on Sorrell's unsuccessful attempt to defend a Vermont campaign finance law before the U.S. Supreme Court, will only run for a short time, McMullen said.
"It's like Shakespeare," McMullen said of the Tuttle reference. "It has many levels."
Asked to elaborate, he said, "Obviously Tuttle and I have a long-spanning connection. But we wanted to bring up the issue of [Sorrell's] futile appeals to the Supreme Court."
As for the six-figure loan to his own campaign, McMullen says, "Just remember, [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Randy Brock loaned $300,000 to his campaign from the get-go... Being up against a 15-year incumbent, I have to get my story out."
That 15-year incumbent, it should be noted, announced last week that his campaign manager, Mike Pieciak, has returned to his private law practice and will not be replaced.