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Eye On Boise

AdWatch: Balukoff’s two latest ads airing statewide, Otter launches new one

Democratic candidate for governor A.J. Balukoff has launched two new TV ads statewide in the past week and a half – including the Spokane broadcast TV market – and GOP Gov. Butch Otter launched a new one over the weekend. I’ll take a look at the claims in Otter’s new ad later, but here’s a look at Balukoff’s commercials and their claims:

School superintendent ad: Starting a week and a half ago, Balukoff began airing an ad featuring Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite; you can see it here. Here’s what Waite says in the ad:

“I’m Rob Waite and I’ve been an educator for 25 years. Let me tell you, we’re shortchanging our students. Under Gov. Otter we’ve fallen to 50th in the nation in what we invest per student. We have trouble holding onto our best teachers and our classrooms are too crowded. Close to 40 school districts in Idaho have gone to a four-day school week. I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a Democrat. But this November I’m voting for A.J. Balukoff. To me it’s about more than politics. It’s about our students and our future.”

THE CLAIMS: Idaho’s ranking for per-pupil funding, from all sources, dropped to 51st in the nation in the latest U.S. Census report, issued in May and covering data from fiscal year 2012. That’s after all states and the District of Columbia. A separate measure of per-pupil spending in specific areas put Idaho 50th, ahead of only Utah. According to the latest tally from the Idaho State Department of Education, 42 Idaho school districts and 11 charter schools have gone to four-day school weeks.

Jim Weatherby, Boise State University emeritus professor and longtime observer of Idaho politics, said, “He’s getting outside Boise, with the Shoshone superintendent, which I think is effective, and he’s obviously trying to reach out to Republicans, having a dyed-in-the-wool Republican endorse him and lay out the case for the difficult condition education is in in this state.”

Otter’s new ad also focuses on education, attempting to paint a sunnier picture.

Movie trailer ad: Balukoff’s newest ad was circulating online earlier, but now has launched on broadcast TV statwide; you can see it here.  A spoof of movie trailers, it opens with a version of the ratings form that appears at the beginning of feature film trailers, but says, “The following PREVIEW has been approved for ALL AUDIENCES. The candidate advertised has been rated G – GOOD LEADERSHIP. All voters admitted.”

In the ad, with dramatic, swelling music and images, a narrator says, “When the good ol’ boy system stops progress and keeps Idaho in last place, there’s A.J. Balukoff – the accountant. A job creator who’s built successful businesses. Balukoff will get our economy moving again. A parent and school board president, Balukoff will fight for the resources students need. Because Idaho’s success is A.J. Balukoff’s only goal.”

THE CLAIMS: This ad makes few claims. Like earlier Balukoff ads, it accurately presents Balukoff’s background as a successful businessman, accountant and former owner of a large CPA firm, and longtime president of the Boise School Board.

“Our feeling was that people tend to tune out traditional political campaign ads as soon as they see it come up on the TV, and aren’t very inspired by them,” said Balukoff campaign spokesman Mike Lanza. “So we wanted to do something that was kind of fun to get people’s attention and make them more aware of A.J. Balukoff. … It was intended as an attention-grabber.”

Weatherby said, “It’s a rather unique ad which stands out a bit, an ad that’s actually somewhat entertaining.” He noted, “Again, no hint at how all this good stuff would be accomplished.” However, he said, “Whatever you can do to attract attention at this point as the campaign noise gets louder will make a difference. It’s kind of a fun ad.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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