The candidates in the First District supervisor race both released the first 30-second video commercials of their campaigns on Monday: Laura Capps is airing a biographical spot while Das Williams rolled out a more startling ad that includes a claim that he “saved our lives” during the Montecito disaster.
Just 50 days before the March 3 election, the dueling spots marked a quickening of the campaign, with Capps the challenger introducing herself to voters and viewers, as Williams pointed directly to the 2018 Thomas Fire and debris flow to bolster the argument that he is worthy of re-election.
In Das's ad, images of him appear over the cut line “Leadership We Trust," while Laura's commercial proclaims that “She’s On Our Side.” Capps was first to the airwaves, as her ad began showing in Santa Barbara’s media market Monday morning on the Today show, Good Morning America and adjacent other news programming; Williams’ ad currently appears on social media and is to begin broadcast soon.
What Das says. Of the two, Das’s ad carries a greater risk/reward factor, with its singular focus on the most painful and emotional episode in recent community history, and placement of him as a central figure in emergency and recovery efforts.
Most strikingly, the ad features Penny Bianchi, a Montecito woman who credits Das directly for her family’s evacuation the day before the debris flow.
“Thanks to Das, we evacuated before the mudslides,” she says to the camera. “He saved our lives.”
The ad also presents county Fire Captain Brian Fernandez and Abe Powell, founder of the Bucket Brigade, praising Das for “assist(ing) with the emergency response” and “help(ing) to make the community safer,” respectively.
Williams strategist Pat Dennis told Newsmakers that the campaign does not mean to imply that Williams ordered evacuations or carried out first responder duties himself.
Bianchi wrote her own lines for the ad, and was not speaking from a script prepared by the campaign, Dennis said, adding that she credited emails sent from Das’s county office, and his performance at a pre-disaster press conference, during which he urged evacuations, for her decision to get out.
“In no way, shape or form are we trying to portray Das as some kind of super hero who personally saved people’s lives,” he said.
You can watch the ad here.
What Laura says. Capps’s spot features a woman narrator reading a script over still images from various parts of her life and career, including photos of her congressmember parents, the late Senator Ted Kennedy and former president Bill Clinton.
“Laura Capps -- mom, small business owner,” the voiceover says in part. “Her parents served in Congress and taught Laura the value of service. She served our country working in the Senate and White House.”
The spot also highlights her work on food programs for poor kids in the community, her involvement as a school board member with developing new protocols for active shooter situations and a campaign proposal to “take county government back from the special interests.”