Earlier this year, the Democratic Governors Association copied the Claire McCaskill playbook by running "attack" ads that aimed to boost conservative primary turnout for an unelectable right-winger. The ploy fell just short, but Democrat Gavin Newsom is using it in the California gubernatorial race
At The Hill, Reid Wilson writes:
Public polls show Newsom solidly in the lead, given his strong base in the liberal San Francisco area, where voters turn out at disproportionately higher rates than in other parts of the state. But television viewers might not get that impression based on Newsom’s focus on [Republican John] Cox.
“John Cox stands with Donald Trump and the NRA. Cox called gun laws a waste of time,” Newsom’s latest ad says. “Gavin Newsom took on the gun lobby and won.”
Cox seems to relish the opportunity to engage one-on-one with the Democrat.
“For Republicans, the race for governor is crystal clear. There’s conservative businessman John Cox, leading the opposition to Jerry Brown’s sanctuary state,” Cox’s latest advertisement says. “Then there’s career politician Gavin Newsom, who never met a tax he didn’t love.”
The back-and-forth between Newsom and Cox serves both candidates’ ends. Newsom’s path to the governor’s mansion will be easier if he faces a Republican in the general election — the GOP has been shut out of statewide office in recent years. At the same time, Cox benefits from a feud with Newsom, a candidate Republicans have long painted as a liberal boogeyman.
Newsom’s tactics recall those of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who used a barrage of advertising just before the 2012 Republican primary to attack one of her potential rivals, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R), as being “too conservative” — an attack that had the side effect of boosting Akin with conservative Republican primary voters. Akin went on to make his notorious remarks about “legitimate rape,” blowing the GOP’s chances against McCaskill.A text messgae from the Gavin Newsom gubernatorial campaign:
Hi John, this is Alex, a volunteer from Gavin Newsom's campaign for governor. Did you see President Trump's tweet? It's attached below - he just endorsed our opponent, John Cox, for governor. Trump's attempt to implement his backwards agenda in CA makes one thing clear: this election is too important to sit out. When you receive your ballot in the mail, will you stand with Gavin, or will you support Trump's choice, John Cox?A neat trick, but Newsom's interests clash with those of Democratic House candidates, who would love a Dem-on-Dem gubernatorial race, which would depress GOP turnout.