DENVER — Fighting to win a seat in Congress out of Colorado’s swingiest swing district, Democrat Andrew Romanoff’s campaign this week released the second in a series of online attack ads directed towards incumbent Republican Mike Coffman.
The name of the game in this ad, as in the one focusing on immigration and DREAMERs released last week, is that while the citizenry of the 6th Congressional District has changed, including vastly more Hispanic and immigrant families, when it comes to Coffman, the ads assert, “Nothing’s Changed.”
“You work hard, every day. But if you’re a woman, chances are, when you go to work, you get paid less than men do: 78 cents on the dollar,” a woman proclaims as the ad opens with a series of turn-to-camera shots of women at work.
“It’s not fair. It hurts families,“ the ad asserts before diving in on Coffman.
Over the tune of increasingly anxious music and the images of women working increasingly industrial, technical jobs, the ad tells us that Coffman “voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He voted to block the Paycheck Fairness Act.”
Those allegations bear out. Coffman did vote against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, the first substantive piece of legislation passed during the Obama administration. He also voted last year not to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act.
In speaking of Coffman, this ad shares some aesthetics with the ads attacking Senate Candidate Cory Garnder out from the League of Conservation Voters. The competitors are pictures in wavering, archival shots that look just pulled from C-SPAN. The footage quality feels like proof of a distant and unreliable past.
“When it comes to closing the pay gap, Coffman votes no,” the female voiceover asserts as the archival film is cropped tighter and tighter towards Coffman’s face, blurring him. The words ‘Coffman votes no’ slam across the scene in sequence.
The flip back to high resolution is almost like relief. We’re face to face with a youngish professional Latina in an office. The ad says if we believe she should get paid what she’s worth, Coffman needs a new job — out of Congress.
Then we’re back to archival footage, something from one of those pauses in an interview where Coffman is just looking into the lens, sitting up straighter.
“Mike Coffman: Nothing’s Changed.”
The ad says formally what it also has the female narrator saying explicitly. Coffman is passé, the ad asserts by showing him only in low res, wavering film. Women, are the future, they’re in high definition, they’re rolling up large, architectural-seeming plans and driving around with competent, determined expressions on their faces. They’re at work, working hard.
Unspoken in the ad, but an equally crucial part of the message, is that these woman are voters. In fact, south-Denver suburban women who make up a lot of CD 6 are considered to be the swing group in purple Colorado, deciding not just this race between Coffman and Romanoff but statewide races for Senate and Governor, too.
The ad also strikes out against recent moves by Coffman to soften his record in Congress over the past five years, not just on immigration, but on workplace nondiscrimination and equal compensation for female workers.
“I support equal pay for equal work for all Americans,” Coffman tweeted on April 9, when the Paycheck Fairness Act — which would protect women who inquire about pay equity in the workplace and make employers liable to civil actions — failed by just six votes in the Senate. That failure all but ensured that Coffman will not have to cast a vote on the topic before the November elections.
“Actions speak louder than tweets,” said Romanoff spokeswoman Denise Baron, pointing to Coffman’s voting record, featured in this week’s ad.
Romanoff has supported the Paycheck Fairness Act and for equal pay in general as part of his platform.
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