New Spohnholz Ad Could Backfire Against Berkowitz

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Today, East Anchorage incumbent Rep. Ivy Spohnholz released a radio ad that sounds straight out of a Donald Trump stump speech on inner cities.

“It’s been a deadly week in Anchorage” the ad begins and then proceeds to go through a litany of scary news clips highlighting the growing crime problems facing Anchorage. Spohnholz begins a voiceover saying “We all know we have a public safety crisis in Anchorage. The question is what are we going to do about it?”

Here is the full ad:

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It is a bold ad for a Democrat who looks to have a fairly easy path to victory against her lackluster Republican challenger Don Hadley.

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz

We wonder if  Democrats may regret Spohnholz going down this path.

In the ad, Spohnholz lays the fault for Anchorage’s crime crisis at the feet of state budget authors and cuts to public services saying “I’m running for state house because I want to change the leadership in Juneau.”

Here is the problem, will voters really connect this recent crime problem with amorphous and ongoing budget decisions in far away Juneau? Isn’t it more likely those folks will lay the blame for their fear and insecurity at the feet of the sitting Mayor of Anchorage, Democrat Ethan Berkowitz? He is the one who actually controls municipal public safety policies and budgets.

It is just a political reality that it is easier for a voter to shake their finger at an elected executive and say “why aren’t you solving this problem” than look to a large legislative body and try to figure out which ones may or may not be the problem.

If the crime problem doesn’t substantially subside in the next 18 months, it wouldn’t take a great mental leap for a Republican opponent to Berkowitz’ re-election bid to clip the beginning of Spohnholz’ ad and her saying she’s running “to change the leadership” and say “Ivy is right, we do need a change in leadership to solve this problem.”

That Republican could also easily marry the Anchorage crime problem with the recently passed and enacted crime reform bill SB 91 that police groups have openly blamed for criminals being prematurely released.

That makes for a pretty powerful soft on crime argument against the Legislature and Mayor, rather than the technocratic budgetary defense the Mayor would have to try and mount.

This ad won’t hurt Spohnholz, but we just wonder if this is a narrative for which Democrats are going to regret having laid the groundwork.

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