f there was any question whether Gov. Joe Manchin believes he's in a race for the U.S. Senate special election, his latest commercial removed all doubt.
Some Republican operatives misidentified Manchin's initial ad as an attack ad, but merely pointing out that one's opponent is running attack ads and noting that negative campaigns drag down the whole electoral process is in itself not an attack.
However, the new "he's not one of us" spot is very clearly an attack ad -- and one that suggests the Manchin campaign is going to take aim at John Raese's potentially biggest vulnerability.
The strategy seems to be to show that Raese is not the ordinary Joe he portrays himself to be, walking around the streets of Morgantown in blue jeans, but a multi-multi-millionaire born into wealth, who is flown around in a private jet and has second-home mansions in Colorado and Florida.
(Not to mention that his wife and daughters are so fond of West Virginia that they opt to reside in Palm Beach, Fla., instead.)
The ad also takes aim at some of Raese's out-there political views, including his support for repealing the minimum wage.
Last week, Raese was quoted in the Daily Caller Washington political newsletter as saying he would also like to eliminate a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Education ("I'd certainly like to dismantle in 2011 the Department of Education," Raese was quoted.) and the Department of Energy ("What do they do? Do they drill a well or open a mine?" he said).
Presumably, Raese didn't think he was misquoted or misrepresented in the Daily Caller article -- since he posted it on his campaign website.
When I first saw Manchin's new ad, my first thought was that I had heard that tagline, "he's not one of us," in a previous campaign.
Then it hit me: It was good old Randy Schoonover who used that slogan in his 1998 state Senate race against then-Greenbrier County prosecutor Mark Burnette.
Schooney was not targeting Burnette so much for wealth, but for the fact that he was a WVU and Harvard Law grad, out of touch with voters in the rural parts of the 10th Senatorial District. And it worked. Schoonover won the primary by nearly 800 votes, despite Burnette's release of his "rap sheet" showing three domestic violence charges, along with numerous misdemeanors...
Speaking of senators, Culture and History commissioner Randall Reid-Smith last week ordered two employees, Tim Walton and Betty Gay, to make an overnight trip to Washington, D.C., at taxpayer expense to deliver artwork for Sen. Carte Goodwin's U.S. Senate office. (Whose walls are undoubtedly pretty bare with all of Sen. Byrd's memorabilia gone.)