ELECTION ’12//CAMPAIGN VIDEOS | When it comes to campaign videos, this election season has been an embarrassment. No Oscar speeches here come next February. Eric Swalwell’s campaign for the 15th Congressional District, by itself, could fill an entire category at the Razzies. And it’s going to take a long time for him to live down the colossally stupid 12-minute video featuring Swalwell debating a young actor playing an old Rep. Pete Stark, likely approved by campaign manager Lisa Tucker. Some even believe Stark won the debate.
Of course, there are inherent risks with campaign videos, if not done professionally. No matter the message, poor lighting and audio can make even Brad Pitt look bad. Even worse, poor videography can make a campaign look cheap and amateurish. That’s certainly happened with Swalwell’s collage of videos over the year, but it doesn’t happen to everyone.
San Leandro District 4 City Council candidate Justin Hutchison, hoping to create some buzz for his low-budget campaign, released a music video this weekend that on the face of it sounded like a cringe-worthy idea. However, it’s executed quite well. Even featuring a hilarious, if not, superb open-field tackle by Hutchison of a thief stealing a woman’s purse at the San Leandro Marina. There’s even a narrative in the video. The thief, I’m told, represents rising crime in San Leandro. In the end, Hutchison gets the crook help. Tough on crime, but with a liberal bent, right?
These type of music videos are not without precedent. During Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s campaign in 2010, she released a well-produced and catchy music video called, “Block By Block.” Be careful. I mean it when I say catchy.
California Republican Senate hopeful Elizabeth Emken, another whose campaign has screamed and hollered over the incumbent’s disinterest for debates, uncorked a well done short video based upon the theme Swalwell was trying to achieve in his Stark stand-in clip, but far more compelling. Using special effects, Emken appeared to be debating a 12-year-old archive video of her opponent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. It’s short and sweet and captures your attention. The problem, however, is its timing. Like Swalwell, who continues to talk about debates even at this late stage, you are left to wonder whether Emken, a Danville native, is running solely for a chance to sit at a desk and debate Feinstein or is she campaigning for U.S. Senate?
For publicity and kitcsh, however, nobody can beat former San Leandro mayoral candidate Sara Mestas gyrating in this video two years ago. It’s San Leandro , people. What can I say? Coincidentally, she’s now a Swalwell donor. Maybe she can loan Swalwell her dancers, in-kind?