24th Congressional Commercials go from introductory to accusatory


DECISION 2010 (WKTV) - The general election is a little over a month away and campaign commercials have been hitting the airwaves.

The first few rounds of campaign commercials for the 24th Congressional Race between sitting Congressman Michael Arcuri and Challenger Richard Hanna are already circulating and the gloves have come off.

The first Arcuri commercial theme was all about how Mike Arcuri was different, one talking head even saying "he's like having your neighbor in Congress."

Hanna's first round of commercials were all about his background as a successful businessman and how he could use that experience in Congress.

Now, a new batch of commercials has hit the airwaves, with the focus shifted away from the candidate and shining the spotlight on their opponent.

Hanna's new ad

The latest is the new commercial from Richard Hanna accusing Arcuri and congress of finding new ways to spend and tax with "a failed stimulus plan...trillion dollar deficits and bailouts."

Here's the transcript of the commercial in its entirety:

It seems that every day, Michael Arcuri and Congress find new ways to spend and tax.

A failed stimulus plan...trillion dollar deficits...bailouts...

Arcuri said we won't have to pay this will be up to our children and grandchildren. That's outrageous and amoral. (noting The Ithaca Journal - 4/17/09)

Let's be part of the generation that reclaims America and rebuilds...not one that irresponsibly leaves our children a legacy of crippling debt.

I'm Richard Hanna and I approve this message.

When it comes to calling the stimulus plan "failed," - the full effects of the stimulus really remain up for debate, with Democrats touting it as a success, and the GOP calling it a failure.

The deficit, as Wednesday, September 22 sat at $13,476,826,449,477.66. As for bailout money spent so far, the federal government has spent close to $650 billion since 2008 in bailing out failed financial firms.

As for that quote from the Ithaca Journal in April 2009 - it was an article on a town hall meeting in Candor, N.Y., where the Congressman was asked how this generation is going to pay off the nation's debt.

The Congressman responded that "we won't pay this debt, it will be up to our children and grandchildren to work toward a balanced budget."

"Richard Hanna likes to twist Congressman Arcuri's words because he can't argue with his record. Congressman Arcuri has taken action to cut government spending, including cutting $120,000 from his own office budget and introducing legislation to cut the salary of every member of congress," said Arcuri Spokesperson Jeb Fain. "While Hanna blusters a lot, over the past two years he hasn't put forward one real proposal that would actually cut spending."

Arcuri's latest commercial

Congressman Arcuri's latest commercial talks about Richard Hanna being involved in government contracts while his uncle Ed Hanna was mayor of Utica, and lawsuits and citations for faulty construction, along with health and safety violations.

Here's the transcript of the commercial in its entirety:

Richard Hanna talks about his business experience...but how did he make his millions?

Hanna got over $4 million in government contracts...$1.2 million...while his uncle was mayor and comptroller of Utica.

Hanna got rich while his construction company overcharged taxpayers thousands...was sued three times for injuries caused by faulty construction.

Was cited 12 times for health and safety violations...and paid thousands in fines.

Richard Hanna..not what he seems.

I'm Mike Arcuri and I approve this message.

Records show that when he was awarded a job, Hanna, in all but one instance was the lowest or only bidder for the project, going through the normal, legal process. Those bids were also publicly advertised.

"Arcuri promised to run a positive campaign. Instead, he resorts to false personal attacks," said Hanna Spokesperson Renee Gamela. "Arcuri's record is indefensible and his only alternative is to assassinate the character of a good man for cheap political gain. Some of Arcuri's ad is an outright lie. All of it is misleading and untruthful. "

As for the lawsuits against his company, there have been several civil cases filed in Oneida County, but they were either dismissed or the company was not held liable.

Hanna has acknowledged the OSHA violations and said the payments amount to less than $3,000 over three decades. He says construction is often dangerous work with many variables that can occur while operating heavy equipment and moving the earth.

From light to dark

So - the commercial campaigns themselves - why the change in tone from "meet the candidate" to accusations?

We asked both candidates point blank - why did the commercials go from why they were each the best candidate, to why the other person is not?

"Congressman Arcuri's record is public," said Arcuri Spokesperson Jeb Fain. "We felt that it was important for voters to know the facts about Richard Hanna's record as well."

"Richard Hanna's ad is factual, issue-oriented and honest. He is speaking directly to the public," said Hanna Spokesperson Renee Gamela. "As we saw in 2008, Congressman Arcuri's ads are not straightforward, nor honest. Today's ad is a sleazy, false personal attack where Arcuri has to hide behind an announcer. Most importantly Richard talks about big issue differences - not personal attacks."

Political Science Expert Steve Schneider of SUNYIT says that the change in tone is a pretty typical move at this point in a political campaign.

Schneider says that in a three-person race, negative campaigning and "accusatory commercials" can often backfire on candidates. However, Schneider says that in a two-person race, the candidates often find themselves having to define their opponent before their opponent defines themselves, meaning there will most likely be many other commercials in this vain in the days leading up to November 1.

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