Update: As of Saturday morning, Beltran’s video has been removed from YouTube.
If you’re a Democrat running in a conservative Republican congressional district, one of the first hurdles you must overcome is getting anyone to pay attention to your long-shot campaign. It also might not hurt to show you can handle a gun.
Estakio Beltran, a 30-year-old running in Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District, tried to do both this week with a tongue-in-cheek web video.
But some conservatives are crying foul, arguing Democrats would whine up a storm if a Republican politician used similar imagery. And Beltran’s campaign wasn’t eager to discuss the ad Friday, refusing to make the candidate available for an interview.
The video opens with the blue-jeans wearing Beltran posing with hands on hips alongside an arid landscape by a country road. “They call me a long shot. They say I can’t win in this district,” Beltran says. “But what happens to an elephant when it stands around, doing nothing, for too long?”
The camera pans to an elephant pinata, and then back to Beltran, who shoulders a pump-action shotgun and blasts the Republican Party symbol in the rear. “My name is Estakio Beltran,” the candidate says, racking the shotgun. “And I approved this message.”
Beltran then rides off on a burro toward a sign pointing toward the U.S. Capitol.
The ad may have been intended as humorous, but some conservative websites are questioning the message, arguing Democrats would flip out if a GOP candidate blasted away at a symbol of the Democratic Party.
Last month, Beltran criticized Republican candidate Clint Didier for giving away two pistols and a rifle to publicize his campaign and his support of the Second Amendment.
Beltran questioned the sensitivity of Didier’s gun giveaway coming after the June 5 shooting at Seattle Pacific University that left one person dead and two wounded. He told the Tri-City Herald he was a supporter of gun rights but “sensitive to the grief” surrounding recent shootings.
The suspect in the SPU shootings used a shotgun, according to police.
Beltran’s campaign refused to discuss his ad Friday.
Grady O’Brien, a campaign spokesman, said Beltran was unavailable for an interview, and said the campaign had no statement to make on the subject.
A dozen candidates are running in the 4th District contest to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. The district has not elected a Democrat since 1992. The top two vote-getters will advance after the Aug. 5 primary.