We're two weeks away from Election Eve – which should absolutely be a holiday on par with Christmas Eve– and The Battling Toms are lining up their best shots at each other – and emptying the wallets of their respective campaign funds. Two new ads hit YouTube – and, presumably, televisions near you – on Monday. Let's take a look at what each of The Toms want us to keep in mind as the campaign winds down.
Tom Wolf: Forward
What's new: Besides Mr. Wolf's shirt? Not much.
What's not: The Wolf campaign seems to have settled on three now-familiar themes: the $1 billion in cuts to education, rising property taxes and the state's lagging job-creation figures. The headlines and some of the clips are recycled and even the music – ominous at the start, switching to something more upbeat when Mr. Wolf explains what he'd do for the commonwealth – is familiar.
Bottom line: "After all – it's time to get Pennsylvania moving again."
Random things we noticed: This is intended to be a tidy synthesis of Mr. Wolf's campaign, something for us to chew on for the last two weeks before we cast our votes. It hits the things that, according to Mr. Wolf, Mr. Corbett hasn't done well, before touching on Mr. Wolf's goals of improving manufacturing, fixing the state's corporate tax structure and using a severance tax to fund education. As usual, accuracy is in the eye of the beholder; we've discussed the tricky accounting when it comes to discussions of the education cuts, and the job-creation rankings, while correct, have a lot to do with comparing our growth rate to that of much smaller states. And is this the right ad for this point in the campaign? With Mr. Corbett narrowing Mr. Wolf's lead in the polls, it's probably necessary for Mr. Wolf to continue poking at the governor, rather than stepping above the fray.
Tom Corbett: Radio Silence
What's new: Waitwaitwait – Mr. Wolf has a "secret plan" to raise income taxes? How come we haven't heard anything about this before?
What's not: OK, we were kidding about that last thing. No matter what this spot says about exposing Mr. Wolf's secret tax plans, Mr. Corbett has been trying to make Mr. Wolf's tax-reform plans – and his lack of specifics about them – an issue for weeks.
Bottom line: "The good news? We found out – before Election Day."
Random things we noticed: As an attention-grabber, this is a good spot. But Mr. Corbett has been asking Mr. Wolf about his plans for state income taxes for a while now. The issue was discussed -- at length – during all three debates. It's been mentioned in ads supporting Mr. Corbett before. So we're not sure the tack here – a "secret" plan that we were lucky to "expose" before the election – really works. In fact, the spot works against itself a little bit; as the narrator mentions the plan's alleged secrecy, we see a KDKA headline from June – as in, four months ago – about Mr. Wolf raising taxes. The narrator begins this spot by saying it's critical we pay attention; for anyone who has been paying attention, this ad is old news. But that's probably not who Mr. Corbett is trying to reach.