Attack of the Sac ads

With a close race for mayor, expect some funny business

is the editor/publisher of the Humor Times (formerly Comic Press News). He has a blog on the publication’s Web site,

The big voter turnout expected in November, according to local conventional wisdom, favors Mayor Heather Fargo. But some might worry that, like a U.S. Olympic relay team, she’ll drop the baton in the final leg.

Fargo has some real image problems, like a recent report that black motorists are pulled over more frequently than others. The suspiciously convenient timing of this report makes one wonder: Who ordered it? Does Kevin Johnson have his own Karl Rove, infiltrating City Hall, sneaking around, getting favors from sympathetic disgruntled types?

Can we expect a Swift-boat-style barrage attacking her biggest strength? You know, being a good mayor?

Say you did have a Rovian wannabe on your side. How would you attack that strength? No problem. Campaign ad: A camera follows Fargo walking through City Hall. The light fades, making her features look dark and sinister. As her solitary footsteps echo ominously down the empty hallway, a low, grim voice intones, “Sure, she’s ruled Sacramento responsibly for eight years, beloved by citizens of all stripes. But what has she done for us lately?” On a pop-up graphic, we see a lonely red line sinking slowly down a graph like a smog-filled Valley sunset, statistics blaring numbers uglier than the Kings’ last season.

In a low, mocking tone, the voice says, “The economy is taking a nose dive, and all Mayor Fargo can do is talk of ‘gang taxes’ and not giving raises to needy top-paid city officials.” Pretty effective ad so far, I’m sure you’d agree.

However, when it comes time in this hit piece—er, campaign commercial—to extol the budget-balancing virtues of Kevin Johnson … well, let’s just say there’s not much “hope” for an “easy layup” there.

St. Hope’s financial woes are not K.J.’s best campaign feature, to put it mildly. If K.J. wants to score any points on the city’s budget troubles, he’ll have to pull some serious Shake ’n Bake moves, because, well, it’s no slam dunk. He might have to dribble around that one. Good time to launch from three-point land.

To say Johnson is vulnerable in the budget area is like saying a swim down the American River in February is a bad idea, or that state politicos enjoy a drink or two after work with their cohorts now and then.

Still, ol’ K.J. does have the natural charm advantage over Fargo. Let’s face it: She’s got fine qualities, but Fargo’s got the charisma of a cardboard box. The charm of a sack of potatoes. The magnetism of a day-old doughnut.

You could say the incumbent lacks excitement the way Sacramento itself does. In fact, maybe Fargo’s best strategy is emphasizing how well her personality fits our town.

Hey, since we’ve developed an attack ad for Johnson, the least we can do is offer a new slogan to help Fargo as she heads into this next crucial phase of the campaign: “Re-elect Mayor Fargo. She fits Sacramento like a worn-out glove!”