Since she is an unknown candidate in the gubernatorial race, Republican Ashley Kalus has commenced a media buy in order to get name recognition. One campaign ad shows her as a boxer (with …
Since she is an unknown candidate in the gubernatorial race, Republican Ashley Kalus has commenced a media buy in order to get name recognition. One campaign ad shows her as a boxer (with correct form and punch!) pummeling a punching bag. The message is driven home: She will be a fighter for all Rhode Islanders.
Also clever in her television ads is the highlight of her name i.e. KalUS. Subliminally, the “U.S.” registers.
On May 1 at the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame dinner it was clear that her ads were working. Many in the crowd, myself included, immediately recognized her. It wasn’t lost on that politically astute crowd, either, that she is doing the grunt work by stopping by the event to shake hands. Some folks with whom I was talking gave her credit for being out there among a crowd who most decidedly are also voters.
Of course, the real challenge for an unknown candidate is not only getting name recognition but also conveying why he/she should be governor. That takes money. Ms. Kalus is financially able to plow money into her campaign, which is an advantage but also a disadvantage. Expect her opponents to accuse her of buying the election. Yet, such an accusation is easily turned around if she “Sundlun’s” it or “Carcieri’s it!
Both gentlemen were unknowns when they started to run for governor, although they had more Rhode Island roots, having worked in private, Rhode Island based companies before they announced their candidacies. Both funded a sizable portion of their campaign.
Rhode Islanders seemed not to mind these candidates’ wealth, since many voters thought that their respective achievement of millionaire status inoculated them from corruption. Rightly or wrongly as an assumption, Democrat Sundlun and Republican Carcieri acquitted themselves without any personal scandal, thereby reinforcing that perception.
Some political pundits have advanced the theory that having a woman governor, Gina Raimondo, would hurt her, since voters wouldn’t give another woman a chance. That conclusion is wrong on at least two levels: While Gov. Raimondo had about a 40 percent approval rating before she ran for reelection, she won. As time passes more people have a more favorable opinion of her.
Furthermore, voters are able to discern one woman from another. In the 1980s, Republicans fielded many women, including Congresswoman Claudine Schneider, Secretary of State Susan Farmer and yours truly for Attorney General, and it was clear that voters did not pick only one token woman among the pack.
In the final analysis, the governor’s race will be decided on the basis of whom the public trusts and who among the candidates has a viable approach to skyrocketing inflation, economic stagnation, and job creation. Rhode island democrat leaders are poised to trip themselves up.
Awash with a surplus and federal money, they are poised to go on a spending spree instead of planning for the very difficult time facing the future in housing availability for not only low-income people but also for blue collar workers and mid-income folks, employment opportunities and the inflation monster.
Splurging will ultimately backfire.
Time will tell if Ashley Kalus delivers a knockout blow. I wouldn’t count her out, since she is far from being KOed.
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.