Group fires away at Murray’s ‘mom in tennis shoes’ image

OLYMPIA — A Washington, D.C., political group hit the television airwaves Tuesday with a commercial aimed at scuffing the “mom in tennis shoes” image of Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Over the next week, the American Action Network will shell out $750,000 to blitz viewers with the 30-second spot that is the first — and may wind up the most memorable — attack ad in this nationally watched contest.

Murray strode into the Senate in 1992 as a mother and school leader and not a politician, and the ad looks to turn that imagery upside down.

In it, a woman in soiled white tennis shoes steps on the backs of a man, a woman and a boy as a female narrator laments Murray’s votes on federal spending and taxes.

“Oh, Patty, we had such high hopes, that you were different; one of us,” the narrator says. “Then, you wore your tennis shoes out on our backs. Small business, Washington families and children.”

It concludes: “Sorry Patty, it’s time you got off our backs.”

The unusually big advertising buy is intended to sway voters “while they are still making their impressions” of candidates in a race where the field is not clearly set, said Rob Collins, president of the political nonprofit that pushes “center-right” policies.

A top Murray campaign official blasted the ad, which was produced by Fred Davis, the chief creative consultant for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. It’s an attempt to aid Republican challenger Dino Rossi by muddying the senator’s record, said Alex Glass, Murray’s deputy campaign manager.

“It’s a dirty, disgusting attack,” she said. “But we expected outside groups to come in and try to buy the Senate seat for Dino Rossi.”

Glass said Murray’s votes to raise the federal minimum wage and expand federal health care insurance program for children are two examples cited in the ad as bad votes for families and children.

“They are attacking her strength,” she said.

Collins denied coordinating with Rossi’s campaign and said the group is legally barred from such efforts.

“We don’t have an opinion on the primary. I’ve not had contact with Rossi. I don’t care if Rossi is in or out,” he said.

But the American Action Network does want Murray out and they aren’t going away. It launched a website, MakeMurrayWorry.com, on which they will be taking aim at her record throughout the campaign.

“Obviously we’ve got the Murray camp’s attention,” said Collins, former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who is a leader of the House Republican Caucus.

Rossi’s campaign doesn’t seem to mind the ads.

“Independent groups can, and should, speak for themselves,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Morris.

Nor does the other top Republican challenger, Clint Didier.

The ad reflects his position on not raising taxes and pushing for lower taxes, said adviser Kathryn Serkes.

“People of Washington want a farmer in work boots this time around,” she said.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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