Particularly for the folk in the Topeka media market, it's been hard to watch broadcast TV the last two weeks without seeing Jim Ryun's "awkward as a colt" commercial. The message certainly as saturated...but, like Ric Anderson pointed out a week ago, it's a message that saturated, say, 40 years ago.
1. As part of congressional candidate Jim Ryun's bid to win the Republican primary, his campaign began airing a TV commercial focusing on his background as a record-setting runner and an Olympian. According to the Ryun campaign, the ad is aimed at telling voters more about the candidate's past. Kansas Republican voters who were unaware that Ryun was an athlete also might be surprised to learn which of the following?Chalk it up to the Ryun campaign totally misreading the electorate, but that's not that kind of information they're looking for when they say the need more background on their former Member of Congress.
A) Amelia Earhart was an aviator
B) Dwight Eisenhower was a general
C) William Allen White was a journalist
D) All of the above
Correct answer: D
The ad's bad, of course, but what's even more surprising than the Ryun campaigns tin ear is the utter and complete silence with which the Jenkins campaign responded to it. For two weeks, Ryun's ads have been on air non-stop and unchallenged, and the very last thing a challenger who is already losing wants to do is let their opponent run the table. But that's exactly what it seems the Jenkins camapign is doing.
If not addressing Ryun head-on, what have the Jenkins people been doing? Yard signs, by the looks of neighborhoods in Topeka. We aren't talking Nancy Boyda 2006 coverage, but they've got yard signs 'round town. Yard signs are important, oh yes sir, but that don't match TV for effectiveness or reach, and they certainly don't provide the level of exposure Jenkins desperately needs. It's roundly recognized Lynn Jenkins' most significant problem is name recognition- people outside of Shawnee County just don't know who the heck she is. Rather than do the logical and throw herself up on TV, she's pushing signs into the ground.
What is all of this, distilled? While Ryun takes the first real steps to defines himself and the race, Jenkins seems to be sitting on her hands.