Ellison’s Election Tip Sheet

Ellison Barber election tip sheet
• April 18, 2014 12:00 pm



Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.) stirred up a lot of controversy for re-enacting a congressional hearing in her latest campaign ad.

It’s not the worst thing we’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

If Landrieu wanted to recreate the hearing, and couldn’t use the real footage, as her campaign argues, she could simply place a small disclaimer at the bottom of the screen that says: "this is a reenactment of events that occurred on X date." It’s really an easy thing to do, and not doing it is dishonest.

Locked Up Abroad does it in every single episode—if National Geographic does it, Landrieu should be doing it too.

Without it, this is a spurious ad that consequently makes Landrieu seem inauthentic.

Byron York explained the issue best, writing: 

The unspoken message of the ad—something Landrieu could never say directly—is that by fighting "Washington," Landrieu means fighting Democrats, and particularly President Obama, whose job approval rating is in the 30s in Louisiana. "For years, she's forced Washington to respect Louisiana," an announcer says at the beginning of the ad, leading up to a soundbite in which Landrieu says, "The administration's policies are simply wrong when it comes to oil and gas production in this nation."

Now, which administration might that be? Obviously, it's the Democratic president whom Landrieu—as Republicans never tire of pointing out—has supported in 95-plus percent of her votes in the Senate. […]

For Republicans in Louisiana, the fakery of Landrieu's ad represents a deeper disingenuousness in her campaign: She's trying to distance herself from a president and an administration of her own party whom she has supported up and down the line.

Landrieu tends to vote on party lines. She’s opened herself to fair attacks that the ad is fake, because the "I’m an independent" message is too.


Another ad campaign that’s been talked about this week is one in Alaska. The ad is being touted as an example of a candidate embracing and running on Obamacare.

After noting that the ad is from Put Alaska First, "a Super PAC supporting Democratic Sen. Mark Begich," MSNBC writes:

The pro-Obamacare offensive marks a significant change of approach to the president’s signature health care law, which has been seen as a politically toxic issue for Democrats in competitive races. The success story, though, notably omits any mention that the benefits were thanks to the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

Begich is one of a handful of vulnerable Democrats who are carefully toeing the line on the issue.

But the ad is not actually from Begich’s campaign. It’s from a Super PAC.

Yes, Put Alaska First is an organization that wants to make the most favorable ads for Begich. They wouldn’t want to put out something that could wind up hurting Begich’s campaign, but to hold it up as evidence that vulnerable Democrats are embracing the health care law is a bit of a stretch.

Would Begich have run this ad on his own accord? Possibly, but he didn’t—an outside group did. Even if he approved of it behind the scenes, the doorway is left open to back away from it if he needs to down the road. At best this is evidence of a Democrat passively supporting Obamacare and testing out what parts, if any, they can run on.

What they’re testing here is embracing one of the least controversial parts of the law. Saying, ‘I’m glad this law prohibits discrimination against pre-existing conditions’ is about as contentious as saying I like that people can stay on their parents plan until they’re 26. It is a part of the law, a lot of people don’t mind those parts, but it’s a niche issue and they don’t justify or make up for the other complaints of a very big law.


Massachusetts has not been very keen on Republicans for quite a while. Peter Blute and Peter Torkildsen, both Republican’s, lost their reelection bids in 1996, making 1994 the last year Massachusetts elected a Republican to the US House of Representatives.

Richard Tisei came close to beating incumbent John Tierney in 2012, and if there’s anyone to break the twenty-year losing streak it’s probably him.

The race is getting closer, and Roll Call has updated their rating, noting:

Tierney’s vulnerability is specific. Massachusetts’ 6th District voted for Barack Obama with 55 percent in 2012 and 57 percent in 2008. But Tierney nearly lost to Tisei last cycle, 48 percent to 47 percent, with the help from a Libertarian candidate who received 4.5 percent. […]

This looks like an excellent Republican opportunity, so we are changing our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Lean Democrat to Toss-Up/Tilt Democrat.

Tierney is particularly vulnerable because of his family. His wife served a month in prison and pled guilty to helping her brother, a fugitive in Antigua, conceal income from an offshore illegal gambling ring. Her brother, Robert Eremian, is said to run the ring along with their brother, Daniel.

Daniel was sentenced to three years for charges related to the ring.

Many have questioned whether or not Tierney knew what his wife was doing—and when Daniel was convicted in 2012, he claimed the congressman "knew everything" about the offshore gambling. Robert Eremian, the brother in Antigua, defended his brother’s claims and, in a June 30, 2012, article, told the Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson, "I will verify everything that my brother said, which will show John Tierney is lying … He threw my sister under the bus for his political career."

The article went on to say Robert Ermeian did not offer proof "that the congressman was aware of illegal activity," but said he needed time to assemble the information.

This seat would be significant if Republicans pick it up simply because Republicans have been out of the state for so long. It won’t mean that Massachusetts is switching to Republican territory, but it would be strong indictment of Tierney.