The cheesiest-looking attack ad in the history of the world debuted during the 7th inning stretch of World Series Game 5 Tuesday night, 15 seconds of low-budget video that assails Cathy Murillo for….something.
Shot in black-and-white with music that sounds like a slasher movie made by middle-schoolers with an iPhone 4, the ad was paid for by a bunch of people who contributed $99 apiece ($1 under the amount that would have required public disclosure) to a recently formed independent expenditure committee called “The Coalition for Santa Barbara’s Future.” Sheesh.
The centerpiece is an edited version of ill-considered, if well-meaning, comments Cathy made last year to an audience of westside residents when she voted against them, and in favor of a bike lane on Micheltorena Street that would have removed scores of parking spaces from the neighborhood.
After an opening shot of Cathy sporting jowls the size of soccer balls, a male announcer with a voice that sounds as if it only recently changed intones:
"Do you know the real Cathy Murillo?
This is how Cathy Murillo treats the public."
(Editor’s rant: The spoken words appear simultaneously on the screen but, for some inexcusable reason, the knuckleheads responsible for the content capitalized the “T” in “treats” –Why, oh Lord, why? But we digress).
Next comes footage of Murillo on the dais delivering comments preceding her vote for the controversial bike lane, which later was defeated.
“I’m going to take away your parking.”
“The pain that my decision will cause you.”
“You’re going to suffer.”
The recording of her comments has been edited, apparently with a dull steak knife, but that’s the jist of what she said at the time, minus, you know, the context. It actually was a pretty standup little speech she delivered, announcing her vote, making clear she understood the neighbors' concerns and then explaining the broader policy reasons for her decision. Not exactly the Gettysburg Address, but at least it was honest.
Kudos to the Indy’s Nick Welsh, who pursued the whodunit tale of the ad all the way up to, and past, his Wednesday Angry Poodle print deadline and now has a detailed story up on the paper’s web site:
"It turns out that a new shadow group called “Not My Mayor” has sprung up to stop Murillo at all costs. They sent out a mailer — so top secret that recipients were told to scrub all names and addresses off before forwarding—asking for donations to pay for anti-Murillo TV commercials. A front group calling itself the Coalition for Santa Barbara’s Future has formed to collect campaign donations to pay for the commercials. They hired a campaign consultant straight out of Camarillo — Chris Collier of Rincon Strategies — who in turn hired a Republican Party campaign consultant out of Sacramento and Orange County — Rebecca Luby — to serve as treasurer. Doesn’t feel local if you ask me…"
"Cathy Murillo is focused on her positive campaign, talking with voters and putting forth ideas to improve our great city," said campaign manager Mollie Culver. "I trust that the voters of Santa Barbara are too smart to be influenced by a negative campaign based on manipulating images and facts when we have so many important issues to come together and work on as a community."
The ad played twice, back to back, on Fox affiliate Channel 11 on Tuesday, and probably will play more between now and Election Day, if whoever’s behind it can round up enough $99 friends.
Top image: Luca Brasi, Corleone family hit man in "The Godfather," shortly before he went to sleep with the fish.