Opinion Brief

Will a 'blatantly racist' political ad backfire on the GOP?

A California congressional race has taken a nasty turn with a bigoted attack ad against Democrat Janice Hahn — but she may get the last laugh

The video: The sleepy special election to replace Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has suddenly gone national, and viral, thanks to a web ad that's being called "shocking, blatantly racist," "Willie Horton on steroids," "the most offensive political ad ever made," and (by its creator, Ladd Ehlinger Jr.) "funny." The ad accuses Democratic candidate Janice Hahn of wasting tax dollars on a gang rehabilitation program, making its point by portraying Hahn as a devil-eyed stripper being spanked by "gangsters" chanting, "Give me your cash, bitch." (View it below.) The ad was independently produced by Turn Right USA PAC, without the involvement of Republican candidate Craig Huey, and both Republicans and Democrats are condemning it.

The reaction: Turn Right's "poorly made," low-budget attack ad is a gift to Hahn, says Carmel Lobello in Death + Taxes. In one fell swoop, it "draws negative attention to the GOP, and specifically Craig Huey," and makes Hahn a sympathetic national figure. For his part, ad-maker Ehlinger must be relishing the uproar, says David Weigel at Slate. After all, his goal was to "get people talking about a spot on the Hahn record that no one had paid attention to." Watch the spot:

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