Both Janice Hahn, the Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 36th district and her opponent, Republican Craig Huey, have condemned a Web ad (see video below) created by an outside conservative group that some have labeled sexist and offensive.
But such viral videos, as the label suggests, take on a life of their own and are hard to kill. The ad, which features a street-gang motif, superimposes Hahn’s face on a stripper dancing on a pole, and suggests that the Los Angeles councilwoman coddled gang members.
FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Willie Horton was referenced in a George W. Bush ad. —
A special runoff election will be held July 12 between Hahn and Huey to replace the retired Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) in the Los Angeles County coastal district.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, among other organizations, ripped the ad and called on Huey to disown it.
“Craig Huey must condemn this offensive and sexist ad, and demand that the ad makers immediately take it down,” said DCCC spokesperson Jennifer Crider. “This ad does not reflect the values of California’s hardworking women and men.”
But Huey had nothing to do with the Willie Horton-style Web spot and his campaign has said as much. (Willie Horton is a convicted felon referenced in a George H.W. Bush TV ad attacking his Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign. Critics of the ad -- which used an image of Horton, an African American, to criticize Dukakis as being soft on crime -- labeled it race-baiting.)
Instead, it’s the work of conservative filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr., who, on his website, compares himself to such auteurs as Sam Peckinpah and Orson Welles, which means, he says, “I'm not afraid to come out swinging.” The ad is credited to RightTurn USA, a conservative political action committee.
“I didn't kill anyone. I didn't even enable anyone to kill anyone," Ehlinger said Wednesday in response to criticism from Huey and the DCCC. “The ad's funny. It makes me laugh. So if, for some reason, it's pulled by YouTube, a thousand will be launched in its place.”
Huey’s campaign manager, Jimmy Camp, told L.A. Weekly that the ad is “inappropriate” and “highly offensive.”
Judging from Ehlinger’s remarks, that appears to be the point.
Here’s the video—with a warning. It contains potentially objectionable material: