Following in the footsteps of Matt Dunne, Sue Minter has put out her first TV ad for the gubernatorial primary. And following in the footsteps of Matt Dunne, her ad raises strategic doubts in my mind. (Not counting the missed opportunity to use “Minter Fresh” as the tagline.)
(Gee, why am I not a campaign manager?)
The ad focuses on her work as Irene Recovery Officer, which strikes me as a questionable place to start her TV effort.
First of all, Irene was a traumatic event, but it was five years ago already. It’s been front and center in her campaign since day one. Doesn’t she have anything more recent to brag on?
Second, the ad is misleading on a key point: she was the second Irene Recovery Officer. She succeeded Neale Lunderville, who occupied the post during the critical first few months of the operation. Irene happened in late August 2011; Minter took over in January 2012.
(This is the same convenient omission made on Minter’s Wikipedia page by FourViolas, an editor who’s made 13 changes to the page since mid-March.)
I’ve got a “third” and “fourth” that concern the same idea: that this ad would play better as part of the general election campaign, not the Democratic primary.
Third, the ad reinforces her service in the Shumlin administration, which is a dubious proposition for the small, liberal-leaning August primary electorate. The three Democrats are trying to craft policy profiles distinct from the Governor’s, and all are running to Shumlin’s left. An ad highlighting Minter’s administrative chops would be more pertinent in the general campaign.
Fourth, the voting pool for the August primary is going to be small, staunchly Democratic, and well-informed. The general electorate may have little idea who she is, but most primary voters don’t need an introduction to Sue Minter; they need to know where she stands on issues.
As a member of Shumlin’s cabinet, she wasn’t able to promote her own priorities. She’s behind her two competitors in terms of identifying herself with core issues. Matt Dunne has been positioning himself as a progressive since the early stages of the campaign. How progressive he actually is… well, that’s another question. But the positioning has had some impact. Galbraith has the most well-defined profile of the three, for good and for ill.
And you know, there’s less than seven weeks until primary day. Time’s a-wastin’.