A Contrast In Congressional Announcement Messages

Two Iowans launched their campaigns for Congress in video announcements this morning. They’re running for separate seats, but the contrast couldn’t be starker.

Democrat Rita Hart made her run for Iowa’s 2nd District official, while Republican Ashley Hinson launched her bid for the 1st District.

Hart’s video shows her from her farm in Clinton County, preparing to plant her crops with her husband:

“I understand the issues that rural Iowans face because this is where I live and this is what we do,” she says while standing by some farm machinery. “I want to make sure that Iowa works for all of us: rural, urban, Republican, Democrat, Independent. We’re starting a grassroots campaign one step at a time, town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, farm by farm. Let’s do it together.”

Hinson begins her video by reminding voters of her time as a news anchor at KCRG. Then the script takes a sharp turn:

“When I watch TV today, I’m outraged by the chaos and dysfunction I see in Washington,” Hinson says while images of prominent national Democrats flash behind her. “Here’s a news flash: socialism isn’t the answer!”

The images on Hinson’s TV is the usual lineup of “scary Democrats” that Republicans like to toss around these days, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Nancy Pelosi, and Bernie Sanders. Abby Finkenauer, who Hinson hopes to unseat, is thrown in for good measure. Republicans ran ads that transitioned between Finkenauer’s face and MS-13 gang members in the last election, so we’re getting started off early this year with some typical scare tactics.

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The format of Hinson’s video is a sharp contrast to Hart’s, which looks like it’s shot on a camera phone while out in the field, wind whistling through the audio. A person behind Hart continues on with his work as she speaks. Hinson’s is shot in what appears to be a professional studio, which is familiar territory for the former reporter. The rest of the b-roll may be new or from her past campaign ads for the Iowa House, but they’re all professionally produced.

While Hinson criticizes D.C. in her opening ad, the style and messaging of the video looks like it was cooked up in a D.C. consulting firm. We’re likely to see the exact same run-through of Democratic faces in other top Republican campaigns this year. Hinson herself just got back a four-day trip to D.C.

Hart’s message is a simple and short one, talking about a campaign that will unite Iowans from all communities and political backgrounds. Hinson goes right into the divisive talk and targets her political opponents.

For her part, though, Hinson does reference several policy stances.

“Iowa families don’t want to lose their employer-provided health coverage,” she says. “Moms and dads don’t want more debt piled on their kids’ backs. And none of us want to pay higher taxes.”

And she highlights her family both in images and words.

“As a mom, I’m driven to secure a brighter future for my kids and yours,” Hinson adds. “Together, we can shake up Washington and create more opportunities for Iowa families.”

Hinson may yet face a primary from former Congressman Rod Blum. If that happens, Blum will once again go the route of the outsider/conservative candidate and loyal Donald Trump supporter. Hinson initially cast herself as a more moderate Republican on some issues, but abandoned that once in the Iowa House with her voting record. Her messaging here is certainly aimed at winning over a primary electorate of Trump supporters in the 1st District, especially in talking about being outraged by what people see on TV.

Hart, on the other hand, may yet face some competition in a Democratic primary, but she will head into race with a very significant advantage. She can focus on introducing herself to the entire electorate in the 2nd District with a more unifying message at the outset.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 5/14/19

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