By Jon E. Easter
Congressman Brad Ellsworth's campaign has put together an excellent video to introduce him to Indiana voters at large, but, so far, it's only a web ad. As I write this, only 175 people have watched it.
If you go through Ellsworth's campaign ads and videos from previous runs, you can see that the video is cobbled together from several of those ads with a little bit of new stuff thrown in.
I would advocate that it's time for Brad Ellsworth to get loud and get out and meet the state. I know that he has been quietly campaigning and raising money for the seat nearly since it became clear that Evan Bayh was not running for re-election, but the time is now to define yourself or be defined by Dan Coats.
You see, Dan Coats is actually trying to portray one of the most conservative Democrats in the House as a liberal. He is taking Ellsworth's health care vote and trying to turn it into an entire campaign. It's time for Ellsworth to say stop it.
Right or wrong, Brad Ellsworth is not progressive. He defeated the ultra conservative John Hostettler for a seat in Congress in 2006 and has carved himself out a right center existence there. That is not my ideal Congressman, but he has been the right representative for the Bloody 8th. Stay tuned to the blog for an in-depth analysis of the 8th District race soon.
I think that he strikes some of the right chords in this web ad, but he needs to take his message to the voters through earned media and then perhaps even through a small media buy.
If I were advising Ellsworth, I would utilize the wonderful support he enjoys from the 8th Congressional District in my small media buy. Perhaps have conservative residents from the district talk about what Ellsworth has done for them and maybe how he's the first Democrat they've voted for. Utilize those testimonials from real Hoosiers to build your resume is what I would say. Julia Carson did it in the 7th, and I think it will work for Ellsworth statewide.
Earned media is important right now. If I were Ellsworth, I'd make sure I was on the evening news or in the papers on a regular basis between now and November. It's not free media; it's earned media. Ellsworth needs to be seen. That's one of his greatest advantages over Coats is that he's telegenic. Besides that, he has substance.
If Ellsworth stays quiet, he can raise a lot of money, but I'm not sure what that gets him. He will then have to fight harder to undo what Coats will certainly try to do to his record. Rather than define himself, Coats will define him for the voters, and that's not a good thing for Ellsworth.
I would also, if I were Brad Ellsworth, make this election about Dan Coats. Coats certainly arrives with five or six packed suitcases and a couple of carry-ons full of baggage. He's a current lobbyist with a record of all sorts of objectionable clients, foreign and domestic. It's time to tee off on Coats, too. The Sheriff keeping us safe from the lobbyist.
And, speaking of "The Sheriff", that seems to be the kind of campaign that Ellsworth wants to run. He apparently wants us to forget that he was a Congressman for these last three years. I get it. Congress isn't that popular right now, but I think it would behoove him to talk about what he's done to try to change the dialogue in the nation's capital. He has done this while Coats has been a lobbyist trying to keep that old time system afloat.
That's a long answer to the simple problem. It's time for Ellsworth to kick his campaign into gear with an earned media blitz and a small media buy. He needs to say, "I'm Brad Ellsworth, and this is who I am."