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July 23, 2008 03:52 PM UTC

Labor Behind Anti-Polis TV Spot

  • by: Colorado Pols

Leave it to the Rocky Mountain News’ Lynn Bartels to set the record straight after a day of frustrating innuendo and misdirection:

A former top union official is behind the first attack ad in the contentious 2nd Congressional District race, a TV spot slamming candidate Jared Polis’ record on education.

The ad criticizes Polis – a former state Board of Education member – on several counts, from supporting “a radical school voucher bill” to wanting to reform, rather than end, President Bush’s “disastrous” No Child Left Behind Act.

“Call Jared Polis . . . tell him to fix his education ideas,” a narrator says in the ad.

Polis’ campaign on Tuesday claimed a specific oil and gas interest was behind the ad and then sent out a clarification after being notified by the Rocky Mountain News about the union’s role…

The spot, which began airing Monday, signals the airwaves will grow increasingly nasty between now and the Aug. 12 election. Polis, Joan Fitz-Gerald and Will Shafroth are running for the Democratic nomination.

The group behind the TV ad is Colorado Counts, headed by Steve Adams, former president of the Colorado AFL-CIO. A variety of unions bankrolled the $155,000 ad buy. [Pols emphasis]

Fitz-Gerald is backed by several unions, including the AFL-CIO and the Colorado Education Association. Fitz-Gerald’s campaign manager, Mary Alice Mandarich, said she knew nothing about the ad.

Adams said Colorado Counts’ goal is to “expose” Polis’ education record. “This has nothing do with oil and gas,” he said…

We repeat yesterday’s admonition against sending out accusatory press releases until all the facts are in view, and add that the breathless “hot tips” that seem to circulate a few hours prior to press releases containing the same bad information are helpful to no one–least of all the promulgators (you know who you are).


44 thoughts on “Labor Behind Anti-Polis TV Spot

  1. The whole thing is a fucking joke. Labor or officials that represent labor on the public’s dime are in charge of our disastrous public education system, and they have been for decades.

    How in the world can you condemn Polis (who I wouldn’t vote for in a million years) for supporting an alternative that’s much more successful than the union-run travesty that happens to also be the State’s largest budget item?

    How can you honestly look at the situation and  not blame the people in charge?  God this defies logic!

    1. Why shouldn’t it be pointed out that Polis tends to be more conservative on education issues than his opponents?

      And I wouldn’t say public education is a “union-run travesty”. President Bush and the federal government are greatly to blame for the state of education and the unhelpful, underfunded mandates they give teachers in the name of leaving no child behind have done wonders to screw up the system.

      Don’t blame labor… the teachers unions and labor unions are simply trying to help teachers, police, firefighters and other workers make a decent wage and keep them from being exploited.  

      1. Schools have been failing for far longer than Bush has been in office.

        The unions have been in charge for decades, and this disaster is almost all theirs.

          1. YES on Amendment 47 to stop forced unionism and forced dues.

            Hey Polis campaign: Big labor unions using forced dues to fund their 527 to kick your teeth in on charter schools, vouchers, education reform and education choice.

            Unions kicking your teeth in on one of your top 2 issues (Iraq and Education).

            Hummmmmmm, common themes prevail.

            Unions = politics, corruption, harassment, forced dues, political funding, stagnation of reform, zero progress.

            Hey Polis Campaign: How much is Jared going to have to dump in now just to right the damage done?

            Forced Union Dues cost Polis Big should be the blog header.

        1. Before I get rolling different schools have different structural problems–right now I am thinking about DPS.

          While there have always been parents who undervalue (or don’t know how to access the education systm), the stakes for education have never been higher.

          Every study shows that parental involvement is a key driver in success. The mother’s education level is the most predictive factor in kids success–if the mother has even 1 semester of college kids chances of success increase immensely.

          But I am unwilling to through kids under the bus because their parents undervalue education or do not know how to access it so we need alternative structures for these kids.

          While charters work for kids whose parents know how to access the education systems they do not work for the kids left behind or those pick the school based on proximity or who are left behind at the traditional school.

          Its with these kids we need to focus our efforts.

          1. The unions control almost every leadership post within government related to education, and represent the largest and most powerful labor union in the State.

            It’s their fucking mess.

            1. Administration is not part of the union (correct me if I am wrong).

              To me the problem is that we are not attacking the key problems.

              1. we are not getting them early enough.

              2. we know parents matter, but we are not doing anything about it.

              3. we are stripping off resources, structure and leadership that could help the most vulnerable students.

              We know who is going to drop out in the 6th or 7 grade.

              This has nothing to do with unions.

                1. When private schools take over a public school they can’t.

                  If private schools take kids that parents send to that school (parental involvement) they are generally successful.

                  1. You’ve got it backwards.

                    A Joe Blow going up against a candidate backed by working-class, middle-income, small donor union workers can is probably funded by the likes of Republican mega-millionaires in the Coors family. Talk about pretty major resources.

    2. Care to back that statement up with some facts and/or data?

      The data on voucher programs is decidedly mixed. Anyone arguing that vouchers are “much more successful” is arguing as a partisan and not as someone who is well-informed and weighing the issues.

      I’m not crazy about taking public money and giving it away to unaccountable private interests. Republicans would prefer to use our state and federal treasury as a slush fund for their friends.  

        1. but it’s not a replacement for DPS.  The kids aren’t exactly the same — their parents really want them to be there (lots of Arrupe students come from miles away to attend school).  Danny’s point about motivated parents is right — these students have a lot of family support.  Second, Arrupe can admit and reject students, so they don’t have to deal with the hard-core discipline cases (or super-expensive disabilities cases) that DPS must deal with as a public institution.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Arrupe model and wish we had more of these schools in Denver.  And I also think DPS can do better than it does currently.  I just don’t think Arrupe is the perfect solution for some of the bigger problems DPS has.  

    3.    On this issue, L.B., I agree with you and some of the more rational critics of our public school system.  I’m not sure a little competition (e.g., charter schools) is a bad thing for out education system.

  2. The Polis campaign blew it by assuming only 1 person was at the address. Have someone drive by, walk in, talk to the person there. Who knows – you might get the full story.

    At the same time, I don’t think this helps Joan. The ad speaks to those that already support her but I think it helps Jared with the majority of voters. People with kids in public school know that the schools are a mess and need to be fixed.

    Which brings us back to the Polis campaign – there is no way an Oil & Gas group would have run that ad as it if anything helps Jared and has nothing to do with Oil & Gas. That should have made them dig a little deeper to look for a logical connection. But that ad just screams teacher’s unions.

    1. Have to agree that going out accusing O&G of being responsible was a serious gaffe by the Polis camp.  I understand the need to respond and it opened a door for Polis to paint Joan as too close to the establisghment Dems but accusing the wrong people just looks amateur at best.  Boulder wasn’t exactly Hillary country and some creative response could have drawn more parallels between Obama’s message of hope and new brand of politics without having to be too overt about it.

      I will say that most up here who haven’t made up their minds yet probably won’t even know that Polis had accused O&G and I doubt Joan is going to be able to hit him on that without drawing more attention to her links to labor.  Given that, Polis still can go hit her on ties to the “politics we want to get away from” and emphasize his progressive views.  Biggest risk I would see is labor comes out even harder against him on t.v., mail or radio or rallies their troops to go walk for Joan, but I’d bet they’re already doing that.

      Poorly handled by Becker & Polis but probably not heard by many outside the hard-cores who already have their opinions formed.

      1. if everyone was a political insider. Serious gaffe? Come on, this ad is not going to hurt Polis, but it’s not going to help Joan either. A lot can happen in 2 1/2 weeks.

    2. I think the content of the ad made it pretty obvious that ad was funded by those who oppose vouchers/education privitazitation. I am pretty dumb, but I don’t think that’s oil&gas.

      I fail to see how this is “negative.” Isn’t JP proud of his stance on vouchers? I think this is a good ad that actually show a big difference between candidates. It looks like all the folks on here who say that public ed is “a disater” clearly agree.

      1. Lest you think “US Term Limits” really cared about Bob Schaffer’s support for charter schools. Just the same, “thanks Bob!”

            1. is way more than you even need to pass a bill through Congress or elect the next president of the United States.

              Requiring 75% of workers to agree to form a union shop like we ALREADY do in Colorado. That IS democratic choice for all Coloradans.

    3. Even when wrong Polis got a swipe in at Joan’s oil industry support. Polis got out a quick response and put Joan and her friends on their heels.

      Clearly Polis is doing much better with a  campaign manager who actually has a clue.

      With so much ammo labor fired blanks at Polis.  

      1. AKA, ignore the message and say what ever you want. Which brings me to the next “point,” why do you hate America? is it the freedom?

  3. This primary cycle has had very few good commercials.  This one by whomever paid for it is terrible. Whatever they were trying to say they did not say it very well. Boring. Even worse than the Shafroth football ad.  

    1. The ad has a very narrow intended audience — public school teachers — and is probably intended to sound the way you describe it to everyone else. Polis has been running an issue ad touting his education credentials and progressive agenda. This ad sounds like a “not so fast” rejoinder to the Polis ad, but again, aimed like a rifle at several thousand public school teachers, who, incidentally, turn out to vote in a Democratic primary at vastly higher rates than the general public. The ad won’t mean much to anyone else but will mean everything to this audience.

      If the ad buy is $155,000, which Bartels reports above, it’s probably airing relatively briefly, because it’s in near constant rotation. I’ve been flipping between local news and the morning shows on Denver broadcast since about 6 a.m. and have seen the ad six times already. The point of the ad is to make sure public school teachers hear “Polis” and think “vouchers,” which only works if they see the ad frequently in a short period. However Polis responds, this creates a tremendous hurdle for him with this core Democratic constituency.

      1. You make a very good point about the strength of the commercial if it’s running that heavy.  I’ve been watching CNN off and on this morning and haven’t seen it, but if it’s running that much on network, the repeated viewing will make an impression.  I aree with you about the target audience and the ad resonating with teachers.  My question would be how many teachers there are in the district that aren’t actually huge fans of the unions or parents that want to see something other than the teachers’ union line in education.  Vouchers are a big problem for Polis with teachers and most liberal parents I know.  

        If the ad is running that heavy, can Polis put a response together fast enough to counter and maybe even turn the table?  Run something talking about his commitment to children and not the teachers union and how he’s spent years and millions trying to provide some options for disadvantaged or at risk kids?  Would talking about it just bring the vouchers up too much and let Joan paint him as not supporting public education?  I think he could spin it and hit with a piece that makes an emotional play with lots of kids who went to schools he started but it would have to be very carefully crafted.  Polis’ people’s handling of this one and their past spots doesn’t give me the impression they’re that skilled, but I do think it could be done.

      2. The teachers that vote job security first (and a vast majority seem to), they were going to vote for Joan regardless – she’s in their pocket.

        This is a reminder to them but Jared trying to get those votes is a wasted effort.

        1. Sure they spent $155,000 to reach maybe 2000 teachers. You think they might have done that with direct mail? The audience is average Democratic primary voters and they did not do a good job.

          The ad was lousy.

          Jared may win because he has the only campaign with a campaign manager who knows how to manage a Congressional race. Jared might be the least qualified but once he righted his campaign ship and brought in a manager that knows what he is doing he has run a relatively mistake free effort. Jared is spending a lot of money. Unlike four months ago he is now spending the money well.  

            1. Joan did not know what her best friend Steve Adams was up to. Right.

              Joan’s friends blew a quarter of a million dollars on an ad that charitably can be described as confusing. Way to go Steve. Way to go Mary Alice. You’re not quite ready for the big time.  

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