Jerry Sturgill, the Democrat challenging Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo, has been running two new TV campaign commercials, but only with very limited airings in Boise. Both are critical of Crapo, one over his vote against major education legislation, and the other charging that Crapo has “done more to help New York bankers than he has to help Idaho families.”
This follows Sturgill’s first ad, which focused on equal pay for women and criticized Crapo for voting against two bills, which he aired only the night of the first presidential debate. The two newer ads aired only on the nights of the vice-presidential debate and the second presidential debate.
“There’s no strategy to that – it’s just a matter of cost,” Sturgill said. “We’re running ads when we think there’s an opportunity to get the highest return on investment because of a wider viewership.”
Jim Weatherby, BSU professor emeritus, said, “I understand limited funds. But what he is running is essentially a negative campaign, without telling the voters in any of these ads who he is and what he’s for.”
Sturgill said, “We’ve been doing a lot of that digitally, not too much on TV. We’ve done a lot on Facebook. We’re just running a very focused, very technologically strategic campaign.”
Sturgill has raised more than $500,000 for his campaign, including a $240,000 loan from himself, but Crapo has raised many times more, and had $5.1 million cash in his campaign warchest at the close of the last reporting period.
Here’s a look at Sturgill’s two ads:
“Education” Ad – WHAT IT SAYS
“Education is one of the most important issues in our state. Sen. Crapo voted against the Every Student Succeeds Act, which actually gives us more local control than we’ve had in the past. The better we can do at education for all of our children, including our youngest children who are ready to go to school and learn, the better we will be in the long run. I’m Jerry Sturgill, I’m running for the United States Senate, and I approved this message.”
Crapo did vote against the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new version of major education legislation that replaced the “No Child Left Behind Act.” He was among just 12 senators voting no; the bill passed the Senate 85-12; Idaho Sen. Jim Risch also was among the opponents. In the House, 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson voted in favor of the bill; 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador voted against it.
Idaho state Superintendent of Schools Sherri Ybarra, a Republican, praised the bill as a “strong first step away from punitive measures towards increased flexibility for local school districts.” Idaho Education News reported that Crapo and Risch said the measure didn’t go far enough to roll back federal mandates; while Simpson said it “represents positive reforms to the education system (and) returns important decisions back to states and localities.” Labrador declined to comment on his “no” vote.
Weatherby said of the ad, “I thought it could have been harder-hitting if he had emphasized the fact that Crapo was one of only 12 in the Senate to vote against it.”
“Corruption” Ad – WHAT IT SAYS
“As a U.S. senator, I would do my best to make life better for the families of Idaho. Sen. Crapo, by contrast, has done more to help New York bankers than he has to help Idaho families. As a U.S. senator, I would fight for Idaho, I would put Idaho first, I would put Idaho families first and Idaho values first, and that’s why I need your support. I’m Jerry Sturgill, I’m running for the United States Senate, and I approved this message.”
The claim that Crapo has “done more to help New York bankers than he has to help Idaho families,” Weatherby said, is “an overreach – that’s campaign rhetoric.” He said, “This is a populist year, where Wall Street is not popular, and severely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans.”
An examination of Crapo’s legislative record for the past six years, his most recent term, by The Spokesman-Review found that more than half a dozen major, bipartisan bills of which Crapo was the lead sponsor became law in the past six years, and only one of them, on terrorism risk reinsurance, dealt with financial matters. The others included a major reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, legislation on tracking of cancer clusters, Indian trust asset reform, tax credits for short-line railroad infrastructure and teen dating violence protections.
However, Sturgill said as a top member of the Senate Banking Committee, which oversees securities markets and financial institutions, Crapo has done the bidding of Wall Street while collecting millions in campaign contributions from those same financial interests. Sturgill noted that earlier in his career he worked as a banking attorney in New York and is very familiar with the issues. “Crapo voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act,” Sturgill said, contending that set the stage for the mortgage crisis and the great recession. The Depression-era law, largely repealed in 1999, kept commercial and investment banking separate.“Middle-class families’ net worth was decreased by a huge percentage,” Sturgill said.
Then, Crapo opposed the Dodd-Frank Act, which nevertheless passed. Sturgill called Dodd-Frank “the legislation meant to control this risky banking behavior and to avoid another financial crisis.”
“If you put it in pure economic terms, Idaho families have been harmed by the failure of our banking system, the banks that he should be regulating as a member of the Banking Committee,” Sturgill said. “Bankers have come away economically better and Idaho families economically worse off.”
Crapo said he voted against Dodd-Frank in 2010 “because it failed to address crucial elements of the crisis,” and “restricted access to credit, discouraged capital formation, and once again created a large, new expensive government bureaucracy, unreasonably extending the federal government’s control over the economy.” Crapo said he favors “reforms that modernize and rationalize the federal financial regulatory system to handle the challenges of the 21st Century markets, while protecting consumers and taxpayers against the risks that caused our recent economic collapse.”