Watching Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth's television commercials, Indiana voters might get the idea that he was a sheriff for 25 years. After all, Ellsworth himself says so in both his ads.
Problem is, Ellsworth was only Vanderburgh County sheriff for eight years -- he was a deputy for the other 17 . . .
The state Republican Party called Ellsworth's ad misleading and said it's another example of how Ellsworth is trying to gloss over his D.C. experience.The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's Political Notebook also takes notice today:
"Clearly this is about Brad Ellsworth wanting to talk about anything other than his time in Congress and the votes he's cast there," said Indiana GOP chairman Murray Clark. "Apparently he is trying to be clever by overstating the amount of time he served as the elected sheriff in hopes that it will fill in the four year gap on his resume that he's spent in Washington."
Ellsworth couldn't have spent 25 consecutive years as county sheriff in Indiana because term limits prohibit sheriffs from serving more than eight years in any 12 year span. Ellsworth was elected as sheriff in 1998 and was elected to Congress in 2006.
In his latest 30-second ad, which started running this week, Ellsworth tells voters about his background as he poses next to a sheriff's department vehicle. He's shown wearing a sheriff's uniform and walking down the street talking to people.
"My 25 years as sheriff was all about putting other peoples' needs first," he says in the ad. "The U.S. Senate needs that same approach. Senators should be helping other people -- not just helping themselves like Washington always does."
Ellsworth said in his first 30-second ad: "One thing that 25 years as a sheriff teaches you is zero tolerance for bull. There's too much at stake. But out in Washington it's like they live and breathe the stuff."
Clark scoffed at that ad after it first ran earlier this month.
"One thing that four years in Congress teaches you is how to spin a lot of bull," Clark said.
Sometimes it’s so easy for candidates to get it right in their campaign commercials that you have to wonder why they get it wrong.Ellsworth is trailing former Sen. Dan Coats badly in the polls. His campaign advisors may want to rethink their strategy and start running ads that come close to resembling the truth if they want his candidacy to be taken seriously in a year in which voters are viewing all politicians skeptically.
This is the case of southern Indiana Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth, who is running for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Dan Coats.
In his first ad, Ellsworth said “one thing that 25 years as a sheriff teaches you is zero tolerance for bull.”
Actually, though, Ellsworth served only eight years as an elected sheriff and the rest as a deputy. In fact, Indiana law prevents anyone from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms as sheriff.
A few blogs and newspapers pointed out this is an easy fix. He could have said “25 years with the sheriff’s department” or “25 years patrolling the streets” or “25 years wearing a badge.”
To make matters worse, Ellsworth repeats the error in even stronger terms in his second ad, saying “my 25 years as sheriff was all about putting other people’s needs first.”
It’s a small thing. And it probably wouldn’t even be an issue if it didn’t seem as if he is basing his candidacy on being a sheriff and not a congressman.