Hey, I hadn’t realized that former VTGOP chair Deb Billado had made a comeback. Congratulations!!
But seriously, the above image is from a nasty little political ad created by the Vermont Republican Party. They waited until now because it’s too late for anyone to make a cogent response. On the other hand, it’s also too late for such a message to sink in, especially since the party can’t afford the kind of advertising blitzkrieg that would punch this message through the noise and smoke of the home stretch.
The 30-second spot features a man identified as “Nathan,” said to be a former employee of David Zuckerman’s Full Moon Farm. “Nathan,” last name not given, is dressed just like a farm worker and stands in front of a suitably well-worn farm-type truck as he unrolls a litany of complaints about Zuckerman as a boss. Low pay, no time off, substandard accommodations, etc.
There is no way to verify Nathan’s identity or his story. The VTGOP, as far as I know, has made no attempt to back up his assertions. He might be a former employee with an ax to grind, justifiably or otherwise. (Any employer will eventually rub some people the wrong way.)
He might also be a Young Republican who’s never gotten dirt under his fingernails.
The cherry on top: The person behind the ad appears to be Republican National Committeeman (and lamprey on the underbelly of Vermont Republicanism) Jay Shepard. His business, Junction Consulting, has been paid $14,450 since October 28 for “Media – TV,” according to party filings with the secretary of state*. The party has reported no other expenditures on mass media.
*Update: the VTGOP’s Twitter feed informs me that Shepad was paid for another ad, a sappy little number entitled “Who are the Vermont Republicans?” It features a montage of candidate pictures, including a whole bunch of people from the fringes of conservative politics.Which begs the question, how much did they spend on producing and broadcasting the Zuckerman spot?
Shepard, you may recall, was last seen sucking $16,066 out of the underfunded Christina Nolan campaign for his alleged services. At the time, Shepard had hoovered up more than 10% of Nolan’s entire bankroll. Shepard is a Trumper through and through. His insight into Vermont politics would be overpriced at 10 cents.
As for the ad itself, it’s mean-spirited politics. It’s also a doomed attempt to kneecap a politician who’s been in the public eye almost continuously since nineteen-freakin’-ninety-seven. That’s 25 years. He has a record. He has an established political identity. People have long ago made up their minds about him. One little 30-second spot, launched after more than one-quarter of the electorate has already cast a vote, is not going to make people completely change their minds about such a familiar figure.
It will only resonate with the people who were never, ever going to vote for Zuckerman in the first place, so it should cement Joe Benning’s hold on 35%, more or less. Is that worth fourteen thousand bucks, VTGOP?
The basic concept of the ad comes straight out of Republicans’ deep-seated hatred of Zuckerman. They constantly refer to him as a trust fund baby who only play-acts as a man of the soil. I’m sure they’re over the moon about sticking it to Farmer Dave, but that picture doesn’t resonate with the rest of the electorate.
They’re also soliciting Oliver Twist stories from other Full Moon Farm workers. An online submission form asks for your name, email address, years worked for Zuckerman, and a description of what it was like to work for him.
Will they get any nibbles? I doubt it. (It’d be wonderful if they got a flood of responses from people who enjoyed working for Zuckerman.) And even if they do get more juicy tales, it’ll be way too late to do anything with them.
They’re flailing, in short. They’re desperate to land even a single blow on the state’s second most popular progressive politician (behind Bernie Sanders) even if it doesn’t win them a goddamn vote.
Considering Vermont is still a relatively small state and people know people who know people, Nathan’s identify is known and whether his story is true will be interesting follow up.
I agree with your post though. Cheap and weak effort by the VTGOP.