Anti-State Senator Ads Show Technology Changes Elections

Anti-State Senator Ads Show Technology Changes Elections

Senator Dave Min speaks in Tustin, Calif., on Aug. 27, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

John Seiler

John Seiler

2/14/2024

Updated: 2/16/2024

Commentary
This should sober up today’s politicians and future candidates.
I just received in the mail a flyer that’s the most devastating hit piece I’ve ever seen. It shows snapshots from a California Highway patrol dashcam of the drunk-driving arrest of state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) last May 2. He’s running for U.S. Congress in the 47th Congressional District to replace Rep. Katie Porter, who is running for U.S. Senate from California.
The dashcam was already released online by CHP. In August, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to three years probation.
The flyer consists of eight fold-out panels from the dashcam that tell a story, as narrated by the red banners:
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Who Doesn’t Like Dave Min?

On the last panel, it shows who paid for it: the United Democracy Project. It’s not one of his two main opponents. One is Scott Baugh, a former assemblyman and head of the Orange County Republican Party. He nearly beat Ms. Porter in 2022, losing 52 percent to 48 percent.
The second is Democrat Joanna Weiss, whom Ballotpedia described as, “the founder of the Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE), a progressive nonprofit focused on public education and gun safety, among other issues. Weiss said her ‘#1 fight is reproductive rights & ensuring women have safe legal access to abortions.’ EMILY’s List, the liberal women’s advocacy group, endorsed Ms. Weiss.”
This is a Top Two race, meaning only two candidates, regardless of party, will go on to November. The 47th also is a major battleground race, crucial to control of the U.S. Congress. That’s why Democrats are attacking each other, instead of Mr. Baugh, who is expected to finish either first or second and go on to November.
The United Democracy Project, according to Jewish Insider, is “the super PAC affiliated with AIPAC,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “In recent days, the pro-Israel group has dropped more than $600,000 on a TV ad campaign hitting Min over a DUI arrest last May.”
The ad is similar to the flyer. And according to analyst Rob Pyers, it was produce by a “SuperPAC that has yet to disclose its donors, Victory Includes Accountability Believability Leadership and Electability (VIABLE) PAC.”
Given Mr. Min and Ms. Weiss are almost identical on all issues, including support for Israel, why the animus toward Mr. Min? Jewish Insider continues, “The late activity from two leading national pro-Israel organizations has stirred speculation over the motivations behind their opposition to Min—which neither group has publicly clarified.
“In a statement, Mark Mellman, DMFI PAC’s chairman, said that Weiss, like every Democrat in its new slate of endorsements, ‘strongly supports the enduring U.S.-Israel relationship and, once elected, will oppose placing additional conditions on U.S. aid for Israel as it seeks to disarm and dismantle Hamas.’
“Min, for his part, has likewise expressed support for continued U.S. military aid to Israel, without extra conditions, and has won backing from a number of pro-Israel lawmakers.
“But even as he seems to be broadly aligned with his opponent on Middle East policy, DMFI ultimately concluded that Weiss was the stronger choice with regard to key issues concerning Israel, according to the source with knowledge of the group’s thinking, who asked to remain anonymous to address private conversations.
“The deciding factor, this person claimed, was that Min, after meeting with DMFI in recent months, refused to make edits to his Israel position paper that were requested by the group’s leadership.
“Among the issues was that DMFI had raised concerns about the language Min had used to endorse the memorandum of understanding guaranteeing U.S. aid to Israel over a fixed 10-year period. The group believed his wording was too vague, according to the source, and did not clearly specify if he would vote for the full annual funding amount.
“A spokesperson for Min’s campaign declined to comment.”
And, “As for AIPAC’s involvement, Min’s team has suggested that its super PAC is now running attack ads against him because AIPAC, which met with both candidates, had taken issue with his criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his affiliation with J Street, the progressive Israel advocacy group that endorsed him in 2018.”
Curiously, Mr. Min’s criticism of Mr. Netanyahu mirror those of President Biden. According to the Feb. 12 Jerusalem Post, “Biden angry at Netanyahu, calls PM an [expletive] – NBC. On other occasions, the President referred to Netanyahu as ‘this guy’ and stated the Israeli Prime Minister was ‘giving him hell,’ for disagreeing to the ceasefire deal.”

Tepid Min Response

Contrast that devastating anti-Min hit piece with Min’s tepid response, paid for by his own campaign:
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It’s an amateurish job. It both praises Mr. Min, while on page 2, on the right, attacking Ms. Weiss. It’s too busy. It quotes the Daily Beast, a major fake news source, “Joanna Weiss appears to be running a congressional campaign fueled by money her husband earned defending the Catholic Church from child sexual abuse lawsuits.”
Appears to be? Is it or not? Well, don’t people and organizations have a right to a lawyer? Especially as Mr. Min and his wife also are lawyers—as is Ms. Weiss; and for that matter, so is Mr. Baugh. They’re all lawyers.
Perhaps Mr. Min and independent expenditures backing him will launch stronger attacks on Ms. Weiss. But for now, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs. a local high school football team.

Changing Technology

Politicians always have come under moral scrutiny. It’s going to get more intense because of dashcams, bodycams, cams everywhere. George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving in 1976 as a young man. Democrats dropped that on him at the end of the 2020 presidential campaign—an October Surprise. But it was brushed off as a “youthful discretion.” Crucially, there was no video. If there had been, Al Gore may have been elected president.
This shows how technology changes politics. As media analyst Marshall McLuhan pointed out, people who heard the Richard Nixon-John F. Kennedy debates in 1960 on the radio thought Mr. Nixon had won. But on TV, Mr. Kennedy won, as his charm shone through and Mr. Nixon looked sweaty, with a five-o’clock shadow. Mr. Kennedy won the election.
By 1968, in a campaign I remember well, Mr. Nixon had revamped his image and came across as more mature and decisive. There were no debates. But his opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, came across as a blowhard who couldn’t stop talking. Color TV, by then replacing the 1960s-era black-and-white, also predominated, and favored Mr. Nixon. There’s a book about it, “The Selling of the President 1968,” by Joe McGinnis.
This age of the internet, social media, and ubiquitous cameras, is far different from 1960 and 1968. And 2028 will be different from 2024.

What Goes Around ...

Full Disclosure: In 2020 I was Republican state Sen. John Moorlach’s press secretary and worked on his campaign when he was defeated for reelection by Mr. Min. The heaviest attack ads and flyers against Mr. Moorlach were by independent expenditures, mainly the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, which didn’t like how he pointed out their pensions were underfunded.
These were scurrilous attacks on Mr. Moorlach. Mr. Min for his part accused Mr. Moorlach of not following “the science” during that year’s COVID epidemic, meaning promoting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s draconian closures of businesses, now since proven excessive. Even Mr. Newsom admitted last October, “I think we would’ve done everything differently.”
It’s unlikely Mr. Min will survive these attacks. There’s an old saying: Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.
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John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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