Opinion

Six of the most notable, egregious and ridiculous Kansas campaign ads for the midterm election

November 2, 2022 3:33 am
A hand holding a TV remote with an "I voted" sticker

With Election Day coming up, let’s take this opportunity to look at campaign ads that misled, uplifted and landed with a thud. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

We can nearly see the finish line, folks.

On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls in Kansas and across the nation to cast ballots in midterm elections. While we twiddle our thumbs (or cast advance ballots), let’s take a look at some of this season’s most notable, egregious or ridiculous campaign spots.

This roundup wouldn’t be possible without Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty, whose invaluable archive can be found at his Kansas Political Ads website. He reminded me that we’re not talking about some antique form. Political ads still matter, forcing campaigns to spend and engage with their opponents.

“The use of the 30 second ad has adapted to modern trends,” Beatty told me via email. “We don’t just see political ads on network TV, but also see them on cable, while watching a YouTube video, on Facebook, and even when online gaming.”

He noted that he plays an online puzzle called Word Whomp.

“For me to play for free, I have to watch one 30 second ad,” he said. “Lo and behold, a Kansas Values Institute anti-Schmidt ad came on!”

Here are six ads from this campaign season, some highlighted by Beatty and a few by your humble local opinion editor.

 

 

‘Police endorse Schmidt’

We start our survey with this ad pushing the preferred public safety narrative of Republican gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. It leans heavily on distortions of incumbent Gov. Laura Kelly’s record, while another from the same group features testimonials from actual law enforcement officers.

“The use of uniformed police endorsing candidates is exponentially higher than in previous campaigns,” Beatty told me via email.

I had asked him about trends he spotted in this year’s advertising. The professor also mentioned ads going “over the line” with profanity or imagery, as well as an abundance of ads from political action committees, or PACs. Just like this one!

As a member of one of the news organizations whose coverage is cited in the ad (check us out at 15 seconds in), I would like to suggest everyone read the news article we ran Dec. 29, 2020. Can you spot where the commission is attacking police? Instead, they were “urging lawmakers to consider changes to police officer training, a ban on no-knock warrants and increased data collection by law enforcement.”

Scandalous!

 

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Clay Wirestone
Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone has written columns and edited reporting for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, cnn.com and a host of other publications. Most recently, Clay spent nearly four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics, and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.

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