By Patrick Condon
Gov. Mark Dayton is out with his first television ad of the campaign, a hockey-themed piece entitled "Darn Good Coach" that talks up the Democratic incumbent's first-term accomplishments.
Dayton's campaign released the ad to the press Sunday. Spokesman Jeremy Drucker said it would begin airing on broadcast television stations statewide on Tuesday.
"A few years ago, things in Minnesota weren't going very well," the ad begins. On the screen, a hockey player tumbles on the ice and a goalie misses several pucks as several statistics flash on screen: "$6 billion deficit. 100,000 jobs lost."
"So we got a new coach," says the narrator, one of the hockey players. That's when Dayton appears, standing amid a group of players just off the ice. Dayton himself does not talk in the ad, but the narrator goes on to enumerate several economic milestones: more than 150,000 new jobs created, one of the nation's best state-level economies.
The state of Minnesota's economy has been a main point of discussion in the governor's race, as Dayton attempts to take credit for improvements of the last four years. His Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson argues that things could be even better if state government spending increases under Dayton could be reigned in.
Johnson's campaign has not yet aired broadcast television commercials, which are expensive. Johnson's fundraising has lagged behind Dayton so far, but the Republican said on Friday that he would have ads on the air by the end of September.
In response to the Dayton ad, Johnson spokesman Jeff Bakken said: "Mark Dayton is trying to paint a record that doesn't match reality. Dayton raised taxes by $2 billion--the largest tax increase in Minnesota history--and his all-DFL dream budget has led to Minnesota having one of the worst job-creation records in the country this year. Minnesotans are hungry for change and will be voting for it on November 4."
Dayton's campaign has reserved nearly $1.3 million in TV airtime from late September to Election Day. Drucker said the "Coach" ad would not be the only one.
Dayton does not currently coach hockey; Drucker said the players in the ad belong to a Twin Cities men's hockey league. The governor is a former high school and college goalie, and he also coached one of his sons in youth hockey for eight years.
It's the third sports-themed ad this year by a candidate for statewide office. Mike McFadden, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, ran an ad that featured his experience coaching youth football, and also ran a hockey-themed ad earlier in the campaign.
The ad can be viewed here.
Updated with Johnson campaign response.