Republican candidate for governor Bruce Lisman is taking his attack of Gov. Peter Shumlin to new levels this week with a television ad that depicts the incumbent Democrat as a babbling ventriloquist dummy.
The ad shows a digitally altered portrayal of Shumlin mouthing the words “blah blah blah blah” while standing next to a man in a dark suit who’s lighting his cigar with a flaming $100 bill.
It’s the latest ad buy from a largely self-funded candidate who’s using his $50 million fortune to bankroll his gubernatorial candidacy. In the opening of the 30-second spot, Lisman presents himself as “not the usual guy.”
“And I won’t do the usual thing,” Lisman says. “Instead of raising taxes, let’s spend our money better. Instead of talking about it, let’s get rid of the Shumlin health care exchange and try something that works.”
When the screen later segues to Shumlin’s dummy character, babbling incoherently, Lisman says, “instead of electing the same old people who would do the same old thing, let’s try a new direction.”
Asked to comment on the new advertisement, Shumlin aide Scott Coriell said Lisman “certainly is an unusual guy – a Wall Street tycoon who helped run the global economy off the cliff, trying to refashion himself into a man of the people.”
“Maybe he thinks that if his fellow wealthy New York City tycoon can mount a successful run for president by throwing around insults and attacks, those same tactics will help him run a successful gubernatorial campaign,” Coriell said, in a reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. “I highly doubt it will work, but good for him for following in the Donald's footsteps. That's certainly something unusual."
Lisman, a former Wall Street executive, isn’t running against Shumlin, who announced last year that he’ll step down after three terms. Rather, he’s facing off against Lt. Gov. Phil Scott in the GOP primary. And the “same old people who would do the same old thing” line appears to be a jab at his Republican rival.
Lisman and Scott have both been critical of a recently-passed House spending proposal that relies on more than $40 million in new taxes and fees to support next year’s budget.
Lisman is the only candidate in the race for governor who’s taken his message to television networks. According to campaign finance disclosures released earlier this month, Lisman had spent nearly $200,000 on mass media before this latest round of television buys. The campaign didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry asking how much it’s spending to air the new commercial.
It’s the first of two new 30-second television spots from Lisman this week. The second, which begins airing Wednesday, also targets Shumlin, and paints Lisman as an “outsider and successful business man” who will “limit budget growth, provide strong management and create more jobs.”