Those of you who have been wondering “where are Congressman Brad Ellsworth’s ads?!” can stop waiting.
Look for these to run all July right on the heels of Congressional Quarterly moving the race from “Leans GOP” to “Toss-up.”
Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) today released his first ad in his Indiana Senate campaign. In the 30-second spot, Ellsworth, a former sheriff, talks about how he developed “zero tolerance for bull” in his old job and how that prepared him for his current post on Capitol Hill.
Ellsworth, who was nominated by party officials in the wake of Sen. Evan Bayh‘s (D) retirement announcement earlier this year, will face former Sen. Dan Coats (R) in November.
CQ-Roll Call rates this race a Tossup.
Check out the ratings for other Senate contests with our election map.
We especially like this one. We know the track says “One thing that twenty-five years as a sheriff teaches you is zero tolerance for bull.” But we could swear he says bullshit. Maybe we are just being hopeful.
And of course the Matt Tulley piece in the Indianapolis Star is pretty stellar:
The Indianapolis Star
By Matthew Tully
Election Day is less than four months away, but many Indiana voters still don’t know much about Brad Ellsworth, the Democratic nominee for Senate.
That could change shortly, as he began airing his first campaign commercial Tuesday. It’s none too soon. As a congressman from Evansville, he could walk down the street in many parts of the state without being recognized.
But he’s not worried.
Four months is a lifetime in a political campaign, and with a rare open Senate seat at stake, there’s little doubt his race against former Sen. Dan Coats ultimately will receive gobs of attention.
“Absolutely not,” Ellsworth said Tuesday morning when I asked him if he was a household name. “But when the regular campaign starts up, when the TV ads start and we get out more during the (congressional) recesses, it will pick up.”
It’s been a strange race in many ways—from Sen. Evan Bayh’s last-minute decision not to run for a third term to Coats’ decision to come back to Indiana in the hopes of winning back his old seat. Now, it’s a dash to Election Day.
Tuesday, Ellsworth, whose face was sun-splashed from walking in Fourth of July parades, met with me to talk about the campaign.
He has taken on a tough task, running during a year in which Democrats likely will suffer a beating. He faces many voters still angry that he voted for the federal health-care bill, as well as ridiculous charges that he’s a liberal lapdog of national Democratic leaders.
In reality, he is probably the only candidate his party could have fielded this year, other than Bayh, who had a chance of winning the election. A moderate Democrat and former sheriff, Ellsworth is preaching a message that used to be common but isn’t heard enough in these ultra-partisan days.
“The problems that face this country do not have a D or an R attached to them, and neither party has a corner on the market of good ideas,” he said. “Guys like me—whatever you want to call me: a centrist, a moderate, a conservative Democrat—we want to be those guys who reach across the aisle.”
“We can’t be head-butting all of the time. On issues like labor, education, the oil spill. Trying to blame a party? Give me a break. Let’s fix it.”
It’s probably fitting that this campaign has been truncated. It’s going to be a relatively simple one. Democrats will hammer Coats for being a D.C. lobbyist, and Republicans will attack Ellsworth for supporting health-care reform and other pieces of the Obama agenda.
It won’t be pretty.
As I’ve written before, that’s too bad. Because both candidates seem like decent, serious-minded men.
As for Ellsworth, he tells voters who are upset with the new health-care law that “it’s not a radical bill” and that, while flawed, it was a “step in the right direction” after decades of inaction. He voted against his party on “cap-and-trade” energy legislation and laughs at those who try to label him a liberal, pointing to positions on guns, abortion and other issues that led Republicans in D.C. to casually raise the prospect of him changing parties.
In recent weeks, Republicans have mocked Ellsworth for downplaying his time in Washington. He no doubt has. He knows his two terms as a sheriff play well. And despite four years in Congress, he insists he still tries to approach issues the way he did during nearly 25 years in law enforcement.
“When we got called, we didn’t ask if the person was rich or poor, white or black, or Republican or Democrat,” he said. “You just went out and tackled the problem. You looked for the common-sense approach to fix the issue.”
It’s a great campaign line. But it’s also a great philosophy.
TalkingPointsMemo.com points out the following about the race and Ellsworth’s new ad:
Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), the Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat of retiring Dem Evan Bayh, has launched his first TV ad of the campaign. Ellsworth cast himself as an anti-Washington candidate taking on Washington lobbyists — a not-so-subtle attack against his Republican opponent, former Sen. Dan Coats, who had been a lobbyist for the past decade.
“One thing that 25 years as a sheriff teaches you is zero tolerance for bull. There’s too much at stake. But out in Washington it’s like they live and breathe the stuff,” Ellsworth says. “They waste our money. They take care of special interests. And they don’t care if lobbyists write the laws or if our jobs get shipped overseas. I’m Brad Ellsworth and I approve this message because the special interests and lobbyists already have enough senators on their side.”
Ellsworth never directly mentions Coats in the ad, but appears to be laying the groundwork for further attacks down the road. Ellsworth begins this general election as a severe underdog, with the TPM Poll Average giving Coats a lead of 49.4%-33.6%.