Jack Conway's new ad follows campaign trend on drug problems in Kentucky

08/30/2010 04:09 PM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway has launched his first ad of the general election season, using four Western Kentucky sheriffs to promote Conway’s efforts as Kentucky’s Attorney General. Conway’s opponent, Republican Rand Paul, has yet to run ads in the general election.

McCracken County Sheriff John Hayden, Calloway County Sheriff Bill Marcum, Union County Sheriff Mickey Arnold, Graves County Sheriff-elect Dwayne Redmon all appear in Conway’s ad.

The 30 second spot isn’t a general biographical ad but does tout Conway’s accomplishments, including fighting elder abuse and prescription pill and cyber crimes. The ad also mentions an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association that Conway received in 2007 during his run as attorney general.

According to records of ad buys with Lexington TV station WKYT, Conway bought space for 42 ads to run in the Lexington market between today and Sept. 5, paying $11,125 to do so. Conway will specifically run ads during “48 Hours” on Saturday and during “CBS Sunday Morning.”

In comparison, 6th District U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler and his challenger, Andy Barr, whose race includes the Lexington TV market, bought double the ads during the same time period.

The ad follows a two week trend of Conway promoting his stance on crime while attacking Paul for a statement made to the Associated Press that the drug problem in Eastern Kentucky is “not a real pressing issue.”

Last week, Conway opened offices in Bowling Green, Lexington and Ashland and used those openings as a chance to meet with community leaders about drug problems in their areas. Conway also sat down with law enforcement officers in Wolfe County in Eastern Kentucky to discuss the issue.

Conway made it no secret a few weeks ago that he would push Paul on the drug issue, but at least one political consultant says it will take more than the drug issue to win the U.S. Senate race.

Danny Briscoe, a Louisville-based consultant who isn’t working for either campaign in the U.S. Senate race, said that while the drug issue is important in various counties across the Commonwealth, Conway trails Paul when it comes to the two most important issues to voters this fall: jobs and the economy.

“I think there’s got to be more than just one issue (to win),” Briscoe said. “And Paul leads Conway when it comes to jobs and the economy.”

Calling it the “giant elephant in the room,” Briscoe noted that Conway was doing the right thing by pressing Paul on his comments about the drug problem but that most voters cared way more about the economy. Still, Briscoe said he thought Conway’s ability to keep the drug problem as a forefront issue in the race was “putting a dent in Paul’s lead.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Conway championing his work against drugs, but what’s a junior U.S. Senator going to do on a statewide level?” Briscoe said. “Will it make him a U.S. Senator? I don’t think so.”

Donald Gross, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, said Conway’s ad was “fairly good.” In addition to promoting himself and attacking Paul with the claims, Conway is also taking the opportunity to promote himself as a “problem-solver” for these issues, Gross said.

Gross noted that while Conway’s campaign is attacking Paul for his statements on the issues, it’s also showing Conway knows how to deal with those issues.

“What I like is that (the ad) sort of ties Conway into issues citizens are familiar with and says Conway is a problem solver for those things,” Gross said.

The ad, and similar campaign message, “focuses on (Conway’s) relationship with Kentucky,” instead of focusing on Washington issues such as health care and cap and trade, which the Paul campaign is linking Conway to, Gross said.

But Paul campaign spokesman Gary Howard pushed back against the ad in a statement, claiming Conway hasn’t solved any problems when it comes to drugs.

“Jack Conway is talking tough, but he ran for office pledging to do something about Kentucky’s drug problem, in particular meth labs — and under his watch as Attorney General the meth problem has seen an explosion, with meth labs up 60%,” Howard said. “Now he wants voters to send him to Washington? Jack Conway has failed to deal with this problem. So he wants to distract people from the fact that he will join the Obama administration in forcing Obamacare onto them, forcing through cap and trade, and killing Kentucky jobs along the way.”

Steve Robertson, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, issued a similar statement, refuting Conway’s ability to stop the drug problem.

“Jack Conway’s misleading ad is a perfect example of how out of touch he is with Kentucky. His job performance as Attorney General has been anything but ‘darn good,’ as the number of meth labs increased 60 percent in a single year under his watch,” Robertson said. “If Conway spent less time cavorting with his liberal cronies outside the state and more time focusing on protecting Kentuckians, maybe we could take this ad seriously. As it stands, this is a laughable attempt by Conway to grasp for support from voters who know better than to trust a liberal trial lawyer in lockstep with the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda in Washington.”


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