Democrats Jason Hodge and Hannah-Beth Jackson both launched broadcast TV ads today in the 19th Senate District -- one of the rare Senate districts in the state in which the presence of small-market TV stations make it possible for candidates to buy broadcast TV time without paying for huge chunks of viewers who live outside the district.
Both ads make it instantly clear that this is a coastal district: They begin with shots of the candidates standing on the beach.
Hodge's introductory spot wastes no time in trying to draw a contrast, although it doesn't not mention Jackson by name. Hodge quickly describes himself as a firefighter, an Oxnard Harbor District commissioner, a Cherokee Indian and someone "who has lived here my entire life." The he delivers the kicker: "I'm a Democrat who doesn't think you need higher taxes. Don't you think it's wrong to raise taxes on people who are collecting unemployment?"
Jackson's spot is a more traditional introductory ad. She opens standing on the beach, and the spot moves along to shots of her inspecting a solar energy facility, standing in front of a classroom, speaking with police officers and chatting with senior citizens. Along the way, she says how she "will make green jobs a top priority," "will stand up to special interests," and will work to get things done "because schools need our help and we need to get California back to work."
The most noteworthy thing to come from these two ads is Hodge's decision to stick with the theme he has been using in his literature -- promoting himself as "the Democrat who doesn't think you need higher taxes." It appears to be an attempt to play off the anti-Jackson campaign employed by Sen. Tony Strickland in his razor-thin victory over Jackson in 2008. He repeatedly portrayed her as "Taxin' Jackson," Because at least $5 million was spent on negative ads against her four years ago, Hodge apparently hopes that campaign has made a lasting impression that he can exploit.
Jackson consultant Steve Barkan today challenged the authenticity of Hodge's pledge, given that in remarks last week at the California Labor Federation endorsement convention, Hodge told delegates he does support raising taxes on the highest income-earners. "Let's make sure the 1 percent pay their fair share," Hodge said. "It's time that we do that."
Both candidates are on record in support of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed November initiative that would temporarily raise income taxes on high income earners and also temporarily boost the sales tax by a quarter cent.
Asked about his comments last week, and how they fit with his assertion that he is someone "who doesn't think you need higher taxes," Hodge cited this week's revelation that former "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson is among the top delinquent income-tax payers in the state, with more than $500,000 in delinquencies.
"I think we need to start making sure Pamela Anderson pays hers taxes before we ask Pamela Smith to pay more," he said in response to an email asking him how he reconciles the statement in the ad with his remarks to the Labor Federation..