• Mario Nicolais

The terrible state of Colorado’s U.S. Senate campaign commercials

There is a moment in a recent commercial for John Hickenlooper when a tall, gangly white guy stands next to a much shorter Latino man. For the life of me, the only thing I can see whenever it comes on is Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro Sanchez standing in a locker-ringed high school hallway.


Given the purulent crop of campaign commercials for both U.S. Senate campaigns this year, it gives me the urge to write in a “Vote for Pedro.”


Much like my morbid love of direct mail flyers, I am a connoisseur of political commercials. During election season, I take bathroom breaks during network television movies just so I will not miss the latest 30-second spot. 


Political commercials can be powerful. They may be moving or shocking or entertaining. The best catch the attention and form deep-seated impressions on the audience. Whether positive spots that highlight a candidate or negative cuts that tear them down, a good commercial can frame an entire election.


For example, on primary night in 2004 I remember sulking about the loss my candidate had just suffered. Our campaign general consultant pulled me from my wallow and asked my opinion on a commercial he had been creating for the presidential race that fall. 


What I saw on his laptop was the first cut of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth commercial that would rock John Kerry’s campaign that fall. Maybe the most iconic takedown commercial in modern political history, it grabbed viewers and demanded attention. 



Read the rest of this column in The Colorado Sun.

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