Another video from the Paul Spencer campaign is out today, and it’s once again packed with policy substance. Spencer, running in the Democratic primary for the Second Congressional District, has a Berniecrat’s instincts for his progressive pitch: No frills, numbers-heavy, professorial, wonky.
The topic this time is another important one: rural broadband. “As more of our society is online, we need to treat the internet as a public utility,” the ad argues. The video zips through some data and has a zinger on Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast that is both right on the merits and likely could galvanize some populist energy among a large swath of voters: “We see monopolistic companies providing poor service at high costs.”
The video is one of a series of five that Spencer is releasing that, according to his campaign, feature “concrete proposals for policies that will help working families, not the same message of centrist compromise that has already lost so many elections.”
Spencer is facing off against the heavy favorite, state Rep. Clarke Tucker, as well as teacher and activist Gwen Combs and Clinton School project manager Jonathan Dunkley, in a crowded primary field of Democrats hoping to take on the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. French Hill, this November.
“In this election, voters will see many advertisements from establishment candidates that offer plenty of platitudes, but little substantive policy,” the campaign has stated. The first video focused on postal banking; another one focused on Medicare for All (see below). “Our ads demonstrate specific policies and how they benefit working families, rather than the vague ideas presented by Rep. Tucker,” Reed Brewer, Spencer’s spokesperson, said when the series began.
The videos are not aired on television, Brewer said, though the campaign has enough cash on hand to do so. Instead, they are choosing instead to focus on targeted social media and field organizing. Here’s how Brewer explained it to me last week:
No advertisements we run in this primary campaign will be aired on television. The effectiveness of television ads in recent elections—especially primaries —has been proven to be marginal at best, and a waste of funds at worst. … By investing in targeted social media, over 20 paid staff, and extensive field organizing in all seven counties, we have reached more individuals than could be reached via television.
As someone who cares about the issues Spencer is raising in these ads, I do wonder whether there’s a sweet spot somewhere in between the slick sloganeering of Clarke Tucker’s ads and the Spencer videos, which can feel like webinars for drowsy undergraduates. These issues impact people’s lives; the art of politics is finding a way to get voters’ attention and convince them that these policies matter. That’s probably as much about gut feelings as it is about the numbers. In fairness to Spencer, he also released a campaign video with more of a “Friday Night Lights” vibe last year. It’s below, plus the Medicare for All ad.
And here’s the Medicare for All video: