The TV ad above will be running a lot between now and next Tuesday’s election in the Lehigh Valley, where Planned Parenthood wants to defeat Republican Ryan Mackenzie in a special election to fill a legislative seat.
In the ad, a nurse practitioner invokes the controversial proposal to require women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound within 24 hours of the procedure, and says “that’s why Ryan Mackenzie won’t be getting my vote.”
Planned Parenthood’s Pennsylvania political committee is putting $100,000 behind the ad – a lot of money for a state legislative race.
There are couple of issues, though. Mackenzie says the woman in the ad doesn’t live in the district and can’t vote against him. More important, he says he doesn’t support the ultrasound legislation. He calls the ad “flat out lying.”
Planned Parenthood couldn’t find anyone to talk to me about the ad, but if you listen carefully, it never says Mackenzie favors the bill. It says his “Harrisburg friends” are behind it.
There’s an even harder-hitting online spot in which a woman who says she’s a victim of domestic violence declares Mackenzie is “dangerous.”
Keegan Gibson of the website PoliticsPA notes that the ad campaign is an effort by Democrats to test their message that Republicans are waging a `war on women.’
The campaign reminds me of one I wrote about in 2010, when a Washington-based group called the Republican State Leadership Committee targeted veteran Pennsylvania Democratic legislator David Levdansky with a $150,000 negative ad campaign the group’s spokesman admitted took a bit of “artistic license” with Levdansky’s record.
He lost by just over 100 votes.
People who do this stuff can make an argument for it: It doesn’t really matter whether Ryan Mackenzie supports the ultrasound legislation, because if he wins, it helps Republicans control the legislature and pursue their agenda. The RLSC spokesman said they went after Levdansky because it’s important for Republicans to win legislatures that control Congressional re-districting.
It’s politics, and it ain’t always pretty.
But state legislators are supposed to be citizen lawmakers, people elected by and connected to their communities.
Every time an outside group targets a legislative candidate with a ton of money and a misleading message, it takes us farther from that ideal.
And that’s a shame.