The West Virginia senate race between wealthy Republican industrialist John Raese and Democrat Joe Manchin (the state's current governor) is getting tense. A controversial ad — paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — purports to depict West Virginia working-class types bashing Manchin over local diner food. (Watch the ad below.) Problem is, Politico reports, these workers are really actors hired for their "hicky" blue-collar look (to quote the casting call) and the ad was filmed in Philadelphia. Although the spot has been pulled, will this flap hurt the rising Raese?
"Hicky" was a bone-headed word choice: In case the GOP "never got the memo," says Jon Walker in FiredogLake, "working class Americans don’t like it when people call them hicks behind their backs." Between this spot and a similar faux-steelworker ad in Ohio, it almost looks as if "the Republican Party establishment is, in fact, just a bunch of wealthy East Coast elites who look down on Americans who live in 'fly over country.'"
"WV Sen: Note to GOP — Voters don't like being called hicks"
It's not the GOP's fault: It's pretty unfair to blame Republicans for this gaffe, says Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. The language about "hicky" looks and "trucker" outfits didn't come from the NRSC, or even their contractor; it came from the Philly talent agency that cast the ad. "I don't really fault Dems" for seizing on this flap to deliver a classic "political hit" — "Republicans would have done the same" — but it's time to let this "non-story" go.
"Is the 'hicky' actor in GOP ad a non-story?"
Better luck next time, GOP: Fair or not, this debate should be "a boon for Manchin and the Democrats," says Nicole Allan in The Atlantic, since it fits so well with their narrative of "Raese as a wealthy outsider disconnected from the state's working identity." And to give the NRSC some credit, the defunct ad was "actually pretty innovative" and effective. It's just their bad luck that the "creative process" was exposed.
"Republicans slammed for recruiting 'Hicky' actors..."