Update: 4:07 p.m. Added comment from McKenna campaign manager, Randy Pepple.
Republican Rob McKenna has launched his first negative TV ads of the gubernatorial race, hitting Democrat Jay Inslee for his proposal to create a new state jobs agency.
The 30-second spot starts by criticizing Inslee’s 15 years in Congress, saying he voted for “more government, bigger deficits.”
The ad then hits a part of Inslee’s jobs plan, a proposal to create a new Economic Competitiveness and Development Office. As I wrote about in an article contrasting the candidates’ job plans this week, Inslee describes the new office as a small agency dedicated to his plans to grow private sector jobs in areas such as clean energy, aerospace and life sciences. Inslee says the office would be staffed by moving existing positions out of the state Department of Commerce.
But the McKenna ad portrays the office as a meddlesome new bureaucracy.
“Now the centerpiece of Inslee’s jobs plan is a new state government agency. Just more government for business to deal with,” the ad’s narrator intones. An image on screen sums up Inslee’s plan as “more government, more taxes.”
It’s not clear what the “more taxes” claim refers to, since Inslee has not proposed new taxes. And his jobs plan actually calls for some business tax breaks.
Then a small business owner, Karissa Bresheare, appears on camera. “The last thing I need is another state agency and Jay Inslee’s government bureaucrats telling me how to run my business,” she says, touting McKenna’s jobs plan to “reduce red tape” and promote private sector jobs.
Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, said the ad will be running statewide. Asked about the ad’s claims that Inslee will raise taxes, Pepple pointed to the Democrat’s record of support for higher taxes in Congress and the state legislature, and to previous Democratic governors who have insisted they have no plans to raise taxes while campaigning — only to turn around and support tax increases after being elected.
“It strains the truth to think that Jay Inslee won’t vote for higher taxes,” Pepple said.
The Inslee camp quickly pushed back, distributing video and a transcript and disputing the ad’s claims.
For example, the Inslee campaign points to votes he took in Congress in favor of more deficit reduction and against some of the biggest drivers of the current deficit — such as the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war.
“It is unfortunate that Rob McKenna has elected to begin negative attacks so early in the campaign,” said Sterling Clifford, Inslee’s communications director.
But Pepple responded that even if the Inslee campaign itself has not yet run negative ads, his allies have been pounding McKenna on TV and elsewhere for a long time.