The ad war between two of the Democrats running for governor is heating up, with each accusing the other of being nastier.
Chet Culver launched his first negative ad this weekend, lambasting rival Mike Blouin for supporting a constitutional amendment that would have outlawed abortion back in the 1970s and failing to press for an increase in the minimum wage when Blouin worked as an economic development official in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.
For the past couple weeks Blouin has been airing an ad that attacks Culver for lobbying for IBP several years ago. “Mike Blouin chose to make this a negative campaign by airing misleading attack ads,” Culver campaign manager Patrick Dillon says. “The ad…sets the record straight on a set of issues that are important to primary voters.” The Culver ad talks about abortion, stem cell research and the minimum wage, but does not address Blouin’s charge that Culver once sided with IBP.
Blouin maintains his attack ad, which focuses on Culver’s work for IBP, is not as nasty as Culver’s. “I stood in front of the camera and asked folks to listen to me as I expressed a difference in philosophy and integrity between Secretary Culver and myself. His is just a third-party running a slow motion picture, out-of-focus, of Mike Blouin while he attacks me,” Blouin says. “It’s more of the traditional, brickbat approach.”
Blouin told reporters on Monday that he’d be swinging back at Culver’s ad, but Blouin refused to reveal the details of that response. “Stay tuned,” Blouin said.
Outgoing Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, suggests the ad war is to be expected. “Primaries are always tough, but they’re supposed to be tough,” Vilsack says. “At the end of it, I think (Democrats) will all come together, support our nominee — whoever that might be, and we’ll have a very spirited campaign in the fall.”
The other leading Democrat in the race for governor is sticking to positive ads. One of Ed Fallon’s ads even takes a humorous approach, highlighting Iowans with the same name as famous Americans — like Bill Clinton and Jackie Robinson — who are backing his campaign.
Culver seemed to suggest this past Saturday that he was siding with Fallon in running only positive commercials. “The campaign in the last couple of weeks has become somewhat contentious. Some of the candidates in this race have decided to run negative ads,” Culver said. “I think it’s important that we focus on beating Jim Nussle.” But the very next morning, on Sunday, Culver’s attack ads were being broadcast in Iowa.