Ad Watch: Little’s first commercial of fall campaign hits on his background, top issues

October 5, 2018

This screenshot is from Brad Little’s first commercial of the fall campaign for governor, which began airing statewide on TV this week.

Brad Little has launched his first TV commercial of the fall campaign, airing statewide, and it stresses both his background and his top issues: Taxes, health care, education and jobs.

“He’s hitting big things that might appeal to some different kinds of populations,” said Jaclyn Kettler, Boise State University political scientist. “But also these are issues that the core Republican voters will care about.”

Little, Idaho’s current lieutenant governor, is facing Democrat Paulette Jordan in the race for governor in November.

“The Republicans have such an advantage in the state,” Kettler noted; Republicans currently hold every statewide office and every seat in the state’s congressional delegation. “If he can turn out Republican voters, that’s the main thing he needs to do.”

The ad features images of Little with his wife and family; out working on his ranch; meeting with other Idahoans, some in cowboy hats, in casual and workplace settings; and addressing a classroom of kids.

“The ad reflects what I think the Republican Party largely looks like in the state,” Kettler said.

She also called it “a pretty straightforward portrayal of Brad Little.” The one thing that’s not stressed, she noted, is Little’s lengthy public service as a state senator and lieutenant governor. But he does highlight policy areas in which he worked, Kettler said. “Maybe he can take that as a given or people can infer it.”

The claims in the ad range from the obvious — that Little’s been married to wife Teresa for 40 years (the two married in 1978), is a father of two and grandfather of five; and a third-generation Idaho rancher — to claims about accomplishments in public policy.

To back up the claim that “he cut our taxes,” Little’s campaign points to his vote, as a state senator in 2006, in favor of HB 1, which cut $260 million in property taxes in Idaho while raising the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent. It resulted in a net tax reduction of $50 million. The bill passed both houses on divided votes during a special session and was signed into law by then-Gov. Jim Risch.

To back up the claim that Little “helped create 100,000 jobs,” the campaign points to his work on economic development as lieutenant governor; among the companies he worked with on relocations to or expansions in Idaho are Clif Bar in Twin Falls, McCain Foods in Burley, and PK Metals in Lewiston.

Economic development and job creation have been among Little’s priorities as lieutenant governor, campaign spokeswoman Ysabel Bilbao said. She also pointed to Idaho Department of Labor statistics showing the state’s total employment rose from 690,722 in 2009, the year Little became lieutenant governor, to 828,854 in August of 2018.

Little’s claims about fighting “to end Obamacare’s monopoly in Idaho” and make health care more affordable both refer to the January executive order he co-signed with Gov. Butch Otter and promoted both around the state and in meetings with federal officials, attempting to get federal authorities to allow Idaho to authorize the sale of cheaper health insurance plans that don’t meet federal Affordable Care Act requirements. That attempt wasn’t initially successful, but negotiations continue between the state and the feds over the issue, and some other requirements have been loosened.

To support the claim that Little is “ready to lead the charge for world-class schools and better-paying jobs,” his campaign points to his education plan and jobs plan, both of which he announced more than a year ago as he campaigned. Among the components of his education plan is increasing starting teacher pay to $40,000 a year and creating signing bonuses for rural teachers; his jobs plan includes an array of proposals, from income tax cuts and eliminating the grocery tax to increasing agricultural education, re-examining regulations and expanding water storage.

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