RODERICK RANDOM: Election-eve Intensity In Chrin, Cartwright Ads
The two local congressional candidates with enough money to air television commercials so soon seem bent on proving we live in unusual times.
We already wrote about U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-17, Moosic, a former trial lawyer, and Republican investment executive John Chrin, a former Wall Street banker, airing TV commercials way earlier than past candidates have in their 8th Congressional District battle.
Their latest ads almost feel like the week before Election Day with directness/cleverness that highlights the intensity.
We bring you them here in word form almost in their entirety to put them into context and because they stand out.
Weeks ago, Cartwright began publicly accusing Chrin in TV commercials of favoring cuts to Social Security cost-of-living increases. In his new ad, Chrin called on his mom to help.
As his mother speaks, she and Chrin appear seated at a table opposite each other in what words on the screen explain is his childhood home in Pennsylvania. Soft piano music rolls beneath.
“Johnny, so what really was the deciding factor for you to run for Congress?” Chrin’s mother asks.
“Mom, I’m going to fight for you and the people of Northeast Pennsylvania. And I will bring jobs for the young people here to create opportunities that I didn’t have and to fight to make sure that your Social Security is protected,” Chrin says as his mother nods in a close-up.
“Make sure that you do it with integrity. I don’t want you to be one of those people in Washington,” his mother replies.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Chrin answers.
See, he’d never cut Social Security. His mom relies on it.
Cartwright’s new commercial conjures up Chrin in a different conversation. It opens with the title, “John Chrin Runs for Congress, Episode 1.”
Viewers hear what sounds like a subway as video fades into to what’s apparently a New York City street, then a “Wall St.” street sign and a shot of the New York Stock Exchange’s facade.
An actor playing Chrin walks into an office where two other actors sit before him.
“Good to see you, boss,” the younger man says. “We got the numbers.”
The next shot shows an easel holding a poster-size page that says, “Buying A Seat in Congress.” The older of the two men flips the page to show a new page with a tall red-bar graph labeled “New Jersey” and four dollar signs next to it and a much shorter blue-bar graph labeled “Pennsylvania” with one dollar sign.
“This is what it’s going to cost you to buy a seat in New Jersey,” the older man says with a slightly New York accent, pointing to the red bar. “Or Pennsylvania,” he says, pointing to the blue bar.
“So what are we gonna do?” the younger man asks.
The camera turns to the actor playing Chrin, who looks uncannily like Chrin.
The Chrin actor smirks the obvious answer with a knowing look.
The older man turns to his colleague. “We’re going to Pennsylvania,” he says.
A narrator interrupts: “John Chrin, Wall Street banker, lives in New Jersey,” she says.
After Cartwright’s disclaimer identifying his campaign, the older man holds up a map with the clearly visible word, Wilkes-Barre.
“What do you think?” he smiles. “Will-keys Barr-ray?”
The mispronunciation reminds us of an uncle who lived in New Jersey,, and the way he used to pronounce Wilkes-Barre. The Diamond City’s name can be said a couple of ways, but neither is the one you hear in the commercial.
The Cartwright campaign aims to emphasize Chrin’s background as a resident of New Jersey for at least 20 years until he moved back to Pennsylvania last year. The campaign probably picked Wilkes-Barre instead of Scranton because it’s harder to say correctly, but also because Cartwright looks more vulnerable in Luzerne County.
Chrin also has an attack ad airing that rips Cartwright for supporting sanctuary cities.
His strong push likely brought the National Republican Congressional Committee into the race. The NRCC began chiming in Sept. 5 with its own commercials ripping Cartwright. The Republicans certainly believe Chrin has mounted a credible campaign. The NRCC helps Republican candidates with a chance of winning and this race remains the one seat in Pennsylvania that Republicans think they can flip to their column.
That NRCC ad portrays Cartwright as a congressman who voted to raise taxes and sided with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in favor of a government-run health care system that would “end Medicare as we know it.” In the next few weeks, we hope to examine the truth of those claims, but you’ll hear that from the Republicans until at least Sept. 24.
The NRCC has bought local TV ad time through that date. If the NRCC spends more after that, you’ll know that they think Chrin can win or they have enough money to tie up Democratic resources defending Cartwright instead of another Democratic candidate running strong against a vulnerable Republican. If the NRCC pulls out, it may think Chrin can’t win or it may think Chrin has enough money to finish off the campaign on his own. Just this week, Chrin bought advertising on WNEP all the way through Election Day, more than $176,000 worth there alone.
If the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which helps Democratic congressional candidates who can win, starts airing ads now, you can surmise they think Cartwright needs the help because he’s losing support or can’t match the Chrin/Republican money.
Money doesn’t seem a problem for either Chrin or Cartwright at this point. This likely will remain the hottest local race until Election Day.
BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune’s politics reporter, writes Random Notes, which has been published every Saturday since Nov. 9, 1895.