Grow Connecticut, the Republican super PAC, is closing its effort to unseat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with its toughest ad of the campaign, a piece that is largely based on outdated economic data and backed by a $600,000 contribution that brings the group’s total spending to $7.3 million.
The Republican Governors Association, which now has contributed $5.5 million to the super PAC, made the contribution Monday as the new ad debuted and its chairman, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, campaigned in Connecticut with the GOP nominee, Tom Foley.
Christie hinted broadly Monday night that he had internal polling showing Foley opening a lead over the first-term Democratic incumbent, but the tone of the new ad and the late infusion of another $600,000 indicate that the RGA sees the race as far from settled.
In a filing Tuesday night to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Grow Connecticut reported that it immediately spent all $600,000 on television advertising. Spending by its Democratic alter ego, Connecticut Forward, stood at $5.5 million, but two gun-control groups are spending another $2.4 million helping Malloy.
The new GOP ad is in sync with the talking points employed Monday night in Groton by Christie: It accuses Malloy of repeatedly lying about taxes and the economy.
But the hard-hitting spot backs up its claims with an outdated economic report and uses video of Malloy that is edited to remove a qualifier he left himself in 2010 when he downplayed the likelihood he would raise taxes.
The spot opens with undated video of Malloy saying, “I’m here to report that the state is doing extremely well.”
LIE is stamped over his face, as a narrator plaintively says, “Lie.” According to most polls, much of Connecticut would disagree with the governor’s assertion the state is doing “extremely well,” but is Malloy’s opinion a lie?
It follows with a well-used clip from an October 26, 2010 debate in which Malloy said, “We’re not raising taxes. That is the last thing we will do.”
Again, “LIE” is stamped over his face.
Malloy did say that, and he did raise taxes by more than $1.5 billion to close the $3.6 billion deficit he inherited. But as close as he came to a no-tax pledge, he left himself an out with this hastily added qualifier, “If we have to, and only then to protect the safety net.”
It is fair game to suggest the governor’s statement was misleading, just as it is fair for Malloy to remind voters that Foley promised in 2010 to cut spending by $2 billion, never explaining how he would close the remaining $1.6 billion budget gap.
The ad then shows Malloy saying, “We’re creating tens of thousands of jobs.”
This time, it mocks without accusing him of lying.
“Really?” the narrator says. “We’re at the bottom in job creation.” The point is underscored with a Hartford Courant headline that says, “Connecticut’s Economic Trend Worst in Nation.”
The ad is wrong on two counts.
According to a report issued this month by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Connecticut’s private-sector employers have added 93,700 jobs since February 2010, the national low point for private-sector employment after the recession.
That is an increase of 6.9 percent, the second-best percentage increase in New England after Massachusetts.
The Hartford Courant headline in the commercial is from June 2013, and the story is not about jobs, though it does give grim economic news. It refers to a conclusion by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis that Connecticut’s economy actually slightly shrank in 2012.
But the BEA is out this month with an updated analysis in which Connecticut’ fared better: GDP growth was a modest .9 percent, compared to 1.3 percent for all of New England. New York’s was .7 percent.
Using GDP and seven other economic metrics, Business Insider ranked Connecticut 35th in economic growth in an article published Aug. 4, putting the state ahead of Christie’s New Jersey and every state in New England except Massachusetts.
The bottom line in the Congressional report is the state still has far to go, but it is making progress: There are still 28,000 more people unemployed in Connecticut than when the recession began, but the number has fallen from a high of 181,300 in October 2010 to 119,800 last month.
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