Hogan-Rutherford Committee to Change Maryland, “Jaymi”

Ad Analysis of “Jaymi”

Melissa Lucas, University of Maryland

Transcript

Let me tell you about my dad Larry Hogan. He married my mom and became the father of three. These ads attacking him as anti-women are just wrong. He’s the only candidate who favors over the counter birth control covered by insurance and he’s committed to not changing current Maryland law on choice. Dad encouraged my sisters and me every step of the way. He loves this state almost as much as he loves us. He’ll make a great governor.

Context

Larry Hogan is currently the Republican candidate for Maryland governor. Hogan faces an uphill battle in a state that tends to vote Democratic during elections. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by a 2-to-1 ratio and just one Republican candidate has been elected as governor in the last 48 years.[1]  As a result, Hogan’s campaign foregrounds economic issues such as job creation and tax cuts in an attempt to “draw voters across party lines.”[2] Democratic challenger Anthony Brown’s campaign places an emphasis on what they describe as Larry Hogan’s regressive stance on social issues. Democratic Governors Association labeled Hogan as “radical, dangerous and would take Maryland backward.”[3] Hogan has responded to these criticisms with multiple public statements and advertisements.

Analysis of “Jaymi” Advertisement 

Larry Hogan’s political record on birth control and abortion has become a major point of contention during the campaign. Anthony Brown’s campaign and the Democratic Governors Association ran advertisements alleging if elected, Hogan would limit women’s access to birth control and abortion. One attack ad claims, “Hogan opposes a woman’s right to choose” and that “he wants to ban abortion even in the case of incest.”[4]  The Hogan campaign characterized these advertisements as “deceitful and dishonest.”[5] According to the Baltimore Sun these allegations stem from Hogan’s political positions in 1980 and 1981 when he supported a Prince George’s County hospital ban on abortions and a “human life amendment.” [6] While personally opposed to abortion, Hogan recently reaffirmed he would not try to overturn or change the law if elected and accused Brown of using deceitful campaign tactics: “For him to try to scare women by misrepresenting and blatantly lying about me and my position is disgraceful.”[7] Jaymi Sterling, one of Hogan’s three daughters, appears in an advertisement to rebuke what the Hogan campaign calls “a false smear campaign Anthony Brown is running against her father.”[8] The “Jaymi” ad utilizes Sterling’s personal testimony and discussions of fatherhood in order to argue Larry Hogan is the true “pro-woman” candidate for Maryland governor. 

Personal Testimony

Sterling’s uses personal testimony in the “Jaymi” ad to defend her father’s beliefs about women’s right to choice. Personal testimonies during political campaigns often allow a candidate to seem more accessible and connected with voters.[9] Sterling is framed in the ad as the real authority on her father, while the attack ads are described as inaccurate. The “Jaymi” ad opens with a smiling Sterling gazing directly at the viewer while she declares, “Let me tell you about my Dad.” This statement implies the viewer is about to hear imitate knowledge about Hogan’s character, inaccessible to the opposing party. However, the advertisement does not only rely on Sterling’s personal testimony. A photograph of Hogan shaking hands with a smiling Wendy Davis is featured as Sterling explains “he is the only candidate who favors over the counter birth control covered by insurance.” Wendy Davis is the currently running for Texas governor and is an outspoken advocate for birth control access. This image is meant to reinforce Hogan’s “pro-woman” status and the authenticity of Sterling’s narrative.  

The Family Metaphor

Hogan’s role as a father is foregrounded in the “Jaymi” ad. Sterling implies that in the same way Hogan is an encouraging father to her, he will be an empowering politician for women in Maryland. George Lakoff argues that the nation as family is a powerful, often unconscious metaphor in American political life.[10] Within this metaphor, members of society view politicians as parents and responsible for citizens’ moral upbringing. The “Jaymi” ad reinforces this metaphor by characterizing Hogan as the potential father figure for Maryland. Sterling described Hogan as a benevolent father who encouraged his daughters to become “independent strong young women” and make their own choices in life. In the same way he raised “empowered” daughters, Hogan is framed as the only candidate who will allow all Maryland women the full right to choice.  Trevor Parry-Giles describes how political images often “fuse together the personal with the political.”[11] Hogan’s daughters are meant to serve as illustrations of his self-described progressive politics toward women. The “Jaymi” ad closes with Sterling’s suggestion that “he loves this state almost as much as he loves us. He’ll make a great governor.” The image of Sterling as a strong, empowered woman represents Hogan’s implied promise to be an empowering, pro-woman father figure for Maryland voters.

Anthony Brown Campaign Response

The Brown campaign continues to strongly reject the notion that Hogan is a pro-woman candidate.  Brown Campaign Manager Justin Schall argued, “It’s no surprise that Larry Hogan is trying to rewrite history in a desperate attempt to fool Marylanders. The record is clear, Larry Hogan has a lengthy history of opposing a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape or incest, and he supported a constitutional amendment that would limit women’s access to birth control — those are the inconvenient facts for Larry.”[12] Larry Hogan and Anthony Brown’s political positions on abortion and access to birth control remain deeply contentious topics in this election.

Notes

[1] Rick Ritter, “Republican For Governor Vow Change In Final Primary Push,” CBS Baltimore, June 23, 2014, http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2014/06/23/republican-candidates-for-governor-vow-for-change-in-final-primary Candidates -push/.

[2] John Wagner, “In Md. Governor’s Race, Larry Hogan Pushes Pocketbook Issues, but Foes Push Back,” The Washington Post, August 14, 2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/in-md-governors-race-larry-hogan-pushes-pocketbook-issues-but-foes-push-back/2014/08/14/d70ff8dc-23d0-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html.

[3] Michael Dresser, “Democratic Governors Run Ad Slamming Hogan,” Baltimore Sun, September 23, 2014, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bal-democratic-governors-run-ad-slamming-hogan-20140923-story.html.

[4] Anthony Brown for Governor, “Dangerous Larry Hogan,” September 17, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxLteJ9DBes&list=UUVIbliayI2sDWuWXrSOXeTg.

[5] David Collins, “Larry Hogan blasts latest Anthony Brown Ad,” WBALT ,September 19, 2014, http://www.wbaltv.com/politics/larry-hogan-blasts-latest-anthony-brown-ad/28137794.

[6] Michael Dresser and John Fritz, “Hogan fights back on women’s issues,” Baltimore Sun,  October 1, 2014, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2014-10-01/news/bs-md-hogan-women-20141001_1_larry-hogan-abortion-laws-brown.

[7] David Collins, “Larry Hogan blasts latest Anthony Brown Ad.”

[8] Hannah Marr, “Hogan’s Daughter Speaks Out Against Brown’s Lies in Latest TV Ad,” September 26, 2014, http://act.hoganforgovernor.com/hogan_s_daughter_speaks_out_against_brown_s_lies_in_latest_tv_ad.

[9] Amber Davisson, “‘I’m In!’: Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Democratic Primary Campaign on YouTube,” Journal of Visual Literacy 28 (2009): 84.

[10]  George Lakoff, The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and its Politics (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), 76.

[11] Trevor Parry-Giles, “Resisting a ‘Treachorous Piety’: Issues, Images, and Public Deliberation in Presidential Campaigns,” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 13 (2010): 55.

[12] Jenna Johnson, “Larry Hogan’s Daughter Says in New Ad that Her Dad is Not ‘Anti-Woman,’” The Washington Post, September 26, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/larry-hogans-daughter-says-in-new-ad-that-her-dad-is-not-anti-woman/2014/09/26/998bab1a-458a-11e4-b437-1a7368204804_story.html.