Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Chris Romer ending his negative ad; now he should just say "no"

The Chris Romer campaign is finally stopping that ubiquitous ad attacking Michael Hancock for voting for a city council pay raise. Pundits are guessing that criticism from Governor John Hickenlooper, name-checked in the commercial, inspired the move; the Romer campaign is saying that the ad had simply run its course. A better guess: Negative or not, true or not, the ad just didn't work.

However you feel about Michael Hancock, it's impossible to argue with the effectiveness of his commercials, which make the most of his compelling back-story, a true Denver story.

Chris Romer has a true Denver story, too, but you got no feel for it in that ad, which could have been aired in Any Attackville, USA. Romer's story isn't the same story as Hancock's: The Denver City Councilman came from a huge, poor family whose father left; Romer came from a big, affluent family whose father became governor. But it wouldn't be hard to use that background to make a compelling case for Romer, too.

On the campaign trail, Romer's made much of his ability to ruffle feathers, his ability to say no, and those can be useful tools in tough economic times. (Romer's financial background is an even more useful tool.) Now he has to put those talents in a human context. I see an ad that starts out with Romer going around town, talking about the city's tough times, about how it's going to take a tough mayor to do the job, talking about how he's a guy who learned early how tough it can be to say no, but how important --- and then end with a shot of Romer saying his father, the former governor.

Now, that's tough. That's also funny, and Romer's campaign can use some humor; he's a likeable guy, too, even if his ads are not.

(What prompts the "no, Dad" line? I'm still working on that...but feel free to post your suggestions below.) For a very different look at the Romer/Hancock race, see Kenny Be's "Mayoral Menagerie."