Most political action committees use tried-and-true tactics to rip on candidates: call them a liar, accuse them of spending too much/too little, et cetera. In Ohio, though, they simply bring forth the terrifying, hated specter of LeBron James to do the work for them.
That's the plan for Workers' Voice, a Super-PAC affiliated with the AFL-CIO and supporting the re-election campaign of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). In an effort to ding the image of Republican candidate and Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, Workers' Voice rolled out a series of ads Tuesday tying Mandel to Ohio's least favorite son.
"Josh Mandel has not been attentive to his job, and LeBron James didn't get his job done in Cleveland," says Mike Gillis, communications manager for Workers Voice.
The ads, featured on the websites of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal, feature Mandel in LeBron's "Witness" pose standing under a shower of cash with the caption "Witness the Mandel investigation."
That photo links to a Workers' Voice page concerning an FBI probe into campaign contributions to Mandel from Suarez Corporation Industries. But it's not just Ohio that gets the Mandel-LeBron treatment. Workers' Voice also paid for the ad to show up on Google and Bing for people searching for info on LeBron or Game Four of the NBA Finals. All that exposure came for $100,000, and according to Mike Gillis, communications manager for Workers' Voice, it's money well spent.
"We really felt that this issue deserves attention," Gillis tells Riptide. "We wanted to use whatever it would take to get people's attention."
And really, who else grabs attention nowadays better than LeBron? That's especially true in Ohio, where he's viewed more or less as the demon spawn of Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler and all the state's pedophiles.
Want another LeBron jab? Take it away, Justin Barasky.
"I would say that LeBron James and Josh Mandel are two people who can't be trusted and are bad for Ohio," says Barasky, the communications manager for Brown's re-election campaign.
In accordance with the rules barring political candidates from coordinating with Super PACs, the Brown campaign has nothing to do with Workers' Voice. But Barasky tells Riptide that the ads are a good way of bringing national focus to a serious matter.
We called the Mandel campaign for comment, but they have yet to answer us back. We'll update you if they have anything to say in response.