Since Jeff Johnson announced his campaign for governor, Johnson and his supporters have attempted to cultivate an image of Johnson as a fighter. Johnson has referred to himself as a “scrappy fighter” in speeches and his presentation at the 2014 Republican State Convention in Rochester, included a video of a boxer preparing for a fight in a ring.
In the boxing-themed video, titled “Time to Fight. Time to Lead. Time to Win.”, Johnson said “…we are gonna take the fight to Mark Dayton and to his liberal friends.” Between images of the boxer preparing for his fight, Johnson said Minnesota needs “somebody who can take a punch to the face and isn’t afraid to turn around and give every one of those back just as hard as he got ’em.”
But in one punch yesterday, Dayton’s campaign knocked out Johnson’s self-proclaimed “scrappy fighter” image, by his campaign’s non-response to Dayton’s first television advertisement.
Dayton’s TV ad focused on Minnesota’s economy, which Johnson himself has said he believes is strong. But 24 hours after Dayton’s campaign released a very effective television ad, nobody affiliated with Johnson’s campaign or the Republican Party of Minnesota has responded with any substantive push-back to the message of Dayton’s ad. Hours after the ad was released, Johnson’s campaign provided a statement to the Star Tribune, but the rather weak response by the campaign was not widely distributed.
The Republican Party of Minnesota’s “Truth Matters” website, which according to Republicans will “hold Democrats accountable to the truth”, has not been updated in almost three weeks. The Truth Matters’ Twitter account last sent out a tweet 175 days ago. It seems both Johnson and Republicans have forgotten how to fight.
The lack of any substantive response to Dayton’s new TV ad by Johnson’s campaign or officials with the Republican Party of Minnesota should be concerning to Republicans. There was no fighter yesterday responding to the big swing from Dayton’s campaign. Dayton’s ad did not mention Johnson, nor was the ad negative. Based on recent polling, Dayton may never mention Johnson by name in campaign advertisements. But someone who boasted that he engages in “hand-to-hand combat every day” would have swung back, made his candidacy more relevant, and put himself in the fight on the message of Dayton’s ad.
The general election is the title fight Johnson wanted with Dayton. But it appears the only “scrappy fighter” is the actor paid $250.00 by Johnson’s campaign to be the boxer in his video.
Unwinding the SPIN is a section of politics.mn which translates the spin and messaging in Minnesota politics.