Dan Moody launched his debut TV ad in the race for Georgia’s Sixth District on Sunday, opening with a 60-second spot that features braying donkeys, stumbling elephants and a politician declaring himself ready to clean up after both of them.
The former state senator from north Fulton County positioned himself in the ad as the consensus-builder who can clear the, er, muck out of Washington. And he took a not-so-subtle shot at the presumed front-runner in the race, former secretary of state Karen Handel.
Moody doesn’t appear until about 42 seconds into the ad, after shots of donkeys groaning and elephants smashing podiums. When he does, he’s seen trailing an elephant clad in jeans, gloves - and a shovel.
Then it pans to Moody, standing by a waist-high pile of ... something.
“Georgia needs the strong, silent type in Congress,” the narrator intones.
“I’m going to need a bigger shovel,” he said in closing.
Moody is one of 11 Republicans – and 18 candidates overall - in the free-for-all April 18 special election to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Price. All candidates, regardless of party, will be on the ballot. The top two vote-getters will square off in a June 20 primary.
Conventional political wisdom puts Handel as the Republican to beat. She was elected to statewide office in 2006 and narrowly lost GOP races in 2010 for governor and 2014 for an open U.S. Senate seat.
With this ad – Moody’s campaign has reserved $300,000 in airtime – the Johns Creek executive serves notice that he’s gunning for Handel. One of the lumbering elephants in his ad sported a pearl necklace, a nod to the jewelry Handel often wears.
“In this time of change, neither Georgia nor America need another career politician,” the narrator intones as the elephant awkwardly jiggles the neckwear.
A string of other high-profile Republicans - including ex-state Sen. Judson Hill, former Johns Creek Councilmember Bob Gray and Trump diversity guru Bruce LeVell – are also jockeying to knock Handel out of the top spot.
And many Democrats are rallying around Jon Ossoff, a former Congressional aide who claims to have raised nearly $2 million. He’s already the target of a GOP-backed attack ad questioning his experience, and he’s rushed to counter that with a trio of ads that began airing last week.
The district spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb and was the launching pad for Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Price, who is now Trump’s health secretary. It’s long been solidly-red, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats who hope Donald Trump’s election has energized their supporters. Hillary Clinton fell about one point short of winning the district, though Price was re-elected with roughly 62 percent of the vote.
Moody, meanwhile, has been something of a wild card in the race. A business consultant who served in the state Senate from 2003-2010, Moody is said to be willing to dig deep into his personal fortune to finance his campaign. And he’s assembled a team of campaign operatives with ties to Sonny Perdue’s camp – and a track record of brutally effective behind-the-scenes work – to run his operation.
One of them is Fred Davis, the Hollywood adsmith who developed the spot depicting Roy Barnes as a towering, crown-wielding rat in his 2002 race against Sonny Perdue. And he honed David Perdue’s image as a jean-jacketed outsider – and his opponents as hapless crying babies - in the 2014 contest.
In this case, Davis is again using the candidate's lack of campaign polish as an advantage.
“I’ll leave the speeches and press conferences to others,” Moody said in a release accompanying the ad, “and roll up my sleeves to do the actual work needed in our nation’s Capitol.”
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