House races

House races

Consultant Fred Davis reveals voice behind iconic ads

Many of the top Republican campaigns this cycle are using Hollywood-based consultant Fred Davis to produce their TV ads. The image-maker has been responsible for some of the most memorable spots of the cycle.

He created "demon sheep" for California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, the "danged fence" ad for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the "one tough nerd" spots run by Rick Snyder during the Michigan GOP gubernatorial primary.

Davis allowed The Washington Post to shadow him for three days for a profile. Here's one of the best anecdotes that came out of the piece.

One night, he took a reporter to the cedar-hued lounge for cocktails. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Davis and strategist Mark McKinnon met here regularly to plot Bush's ad campaign.

The club has 300 members, among them many of Hollywood's leading men. Davis steps into the humidor room, where he and other members store their cigars in personal wooden lockers. Never mind that he's not much of a smoker and says that he hasn't opened his box in months. Davis is here to gaze at the gold-plated name cards: Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Sylvester Stallone ... Hulk Hogan ... Mel Gibson ... David Geffen ...

Fred N. Davis III.

He returns to a retro velvet couch to meet his friend, the actor Robert Davi, one of Hollywood's lonely dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. Davi, who played the villain in the James Bond film "License to Kill," has a distinctive baritone. And in an exclusive deal, he provides the voice-overs for many of Davis's ads. He narrated every video at the 2008 Republican convention.

"We never told who Robert Davi was," Davis says. "If you write that in your story, you'll be the first. He's the voice of Rick Snyder, McCain — all the McCain stuff — Carly. He was the voice of 'Demon Sheep.' "

Davi, smoking a Cuban torpedo, turns to his friend and dubs him "the Wizard of Oz of political campaigns."

"Here you have the Yellow Brick Road," Davi says. "You're creating an illusion. You're creating a world in Dorothy's head. The iconic use of the straw man and the lion. In the political arena, you're creating an illusion."


Two ads target Ohio Republican on unpaid taxes

The Democrats and their union allies have zeroed in on Ohio Republican Jim Renacci's tax troubles.

Renacci got entangled in a complicated dispute with the state of Ohio over whether his network of businesses, which includes nursing homes and an auto dealership, made a profit in 2000.

Renacci, who's running against freshman Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio), declared a loss on his taxes. But after getting audited, he and his wife ended up settling with the state for more than $1.3 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, court records show

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Service Employees International Union tried to unravel the issue in separate 30-second spots.

But it appears the union, whose ad was released first, may have done the better job. 

This is the SEIU ad

Here's the DCCC's spot


DCCC targets N.Y. Rep. Arcuri challenger

A new poll shows New York Rep. Michael Arcuri (D) leading businessman Richard Hanna (R), but the party isn't taking that lead for granted.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday released a TV ad hitting Hanna for, among other things, his position on Social Security.

Arcuri led Hanna 48 percent to 40 percent in a Siena Research Institute poll released Monday. However, the poll of 605 likely voters — the first independent survey of the race — had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percent. Arcuri defeated Hanna by only 4 percent in 2008.


Former GOP senator backs Rep. Walz

Former Republican Sen. David Durenberger (R-Minn.) has endorsed Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) for reelection, the first time the former lawmaker has backed a Democrat. 

"I have my own set of experiences of bringing people together," Durenberger said while announcing his backing of Walz at an event Tuesday. "I had the experience of watching Tim try to do it in the district, and if Tim Walz were a Republican, I'd be endorsing him anyway, but he's a Democrat."

Durenberger is a strong supporter of the recently enacted healthcare law and noted Walz's support for it in his endorsement. The former senator broke with his party publicly several years ago, saying that while he no longer supports the GOP, he doesn't consider himself a Democrat either.  

Walz faces Republican state Rep. Randy Demmer in the fall. 


Poll: Arizona grudge match tied

There's new evidence to support Democrats' claims that Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) is running a strong reelection campaign.

A new poll shows the two-term incumbent leading former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert (R) — albeit by a single point.

Mitchell had 45 percent support to 44 percent for Schweikert, with 6 percent for Libertarian Nick Coons and 5 percent undecided, in an internal poll obtained by the Ballot Box. 

Harstad Strategic Research, a Colorado-based firm, conducted the survey of 509 likely voters Sept. 13-16. The firm's polling memo does not state the poll's margin of error.

An earlier National Research Inc. poll showed Mitchell trailing Schweikert 46 percent to 38 percent. 

Democratic strategists are pleased with the results of the survey in light of the aggressive TV ads that have been run in the district against Mitchell. 

The conservative-leaning 60 Plus Association and Americans for Prosperity both ran ads against Mitchell starting after the primary in August. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had reserved $1.2 million worth of TV airtime in the Phoenix market, but has since scaled that back based on the strength of Mitchell and their other incumbents.

Democrats have released a plethora of internal polls recently to counter the narrative of a GOP wave election.


Tenn. Dem releases tough new TV ad against GOP favorite (updated)

Tennessee Democrat Roy Herron is doing his best to take the shine off of GOP golden boy Stephen Fincher.

Running to succeed retiring Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), Fincher, a farmer and gospel singer, was considered one of the Republicans' top prospects. That's in part because he symbolizes the kind of citizen-politician-outsider voters are responding to this cycle.

The fourth ad from Herron scratches away at Fincher’s personal narrative. "Stephen Fincher: hiding, breaking the law, unworthy of our trust," the announcer says in the spot.

Herron's ad stands in sharp contrast to one that Fincher started airing Tuesday in the Nashville media market. "We need to rise above politics and do what's right for our country," Fincher says in the ad. "I'm just one man, but I'm willing to sacrafice to change things, and then come back home to Frog Jump. ... This is no time for politicians."

--Updated at 11:59 p.m.


Rep. Inglis: Tea Party rhetoric hurts GOP

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), who lost his Republican primary earlier this year at the hands of a Tea Party-backed candidate, suggested Tuesday that rhetoric on the right is hurting the credibility of the GOP.

In an interview on CNN's "American Morning," Inglis said the tone against President Obama is too harsh and very often false.

"It's also not true that he's a Muslim," said Inglis. "It's not true that he wants to take over as a dictator. These things — we need to get rid of these things so we can build on credible, solid information."

On Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell's win in Delaware, Inglis said he was "concerned" and hopes "some of the things that are reported don't turn out to be correct."

When it comes to selecting Republican candidates, Inglis warned it's "very important that we be credible and have candidates that don't run in front of the flamethrowers."

Inglis lost a GOP runoff by a wide margin in June to Republican Trey Gowdy, who hit the incumbent relentlessly over his vote for the bank bailout.