The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election News

September 28, 2006

Ad Watch: Pawlenty ad takes after Hatch spending

NAME: “$2,912”

MEDIUM: Television

LENGTH: 30 seconds

SPONSOR: Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty

COST: More than $250,000 for one week.

TARGET AREA: Statewide.

TEXT: Accountant John Heutmaker: “I’m not being paid to say this. I’m not an actor. I’m an accountant. I checked the numbers on all the new ways Mike Hatch says he wants to spend our money. We’re talking $6.4 billion or more. That’s extra money the state doesn’t have. So they’ll have to come to us for a tax hike averaging $2,912 per family. Bottom line: Minnesota can’t afford Mike Hatch.”

KEY VISUALS: Footage of Heutmaker in an office. File folders drop on his desk, a computer spreadsheet flashes by and a calculator depicts the numbers $2,912. Key stats appear on the screen to reinforce the spoken message.

GOAL: To portray Hatch, Pawlenty’s Democratic challenger, as a candidate who would raise taxes if elected.

ANALYSIS: While he might not have been paid, the accountant in the ad is a former Republican candidate for the state Legislature and acknowledges still being active in party circles. Pawlenty’s figures are suspect. He gives a four-year total of programs that Hatch has mentioned — not all of which he has committed to — and divides the cost by the number of households to come up with a tax burden. Hatch contends some programs, like his goal of expanding fiber optic cable in greater Minnesota, could be privately funded. While Hatch has made promises that carry large price tags, he hasn’t recommended general state taxes to pay for them. Suggesting every family would get hit with the higher cost probably isn’t a fair representation. Even so, Pawlenty used the tax issue effectively in his 2002 campaign for governor. That could put pressure on Hatch to respond in kind before voters take the ad’s message to heart.


Analysis by Brian Bakst, Associated Press writer

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