Everyone’s Gushing Over Carl Sciortino’s Father-Son Campaign Ad

The candidate for Ed Markey's House seat 'comes out' to his conservative father as a 'Massachusetts liberal.'

Just one day after it launched, a campaign ad for Massachusetts congressional candidate Carl Sciortino is looking like an instant classic. Sciortino is an openly gay Massachusetts state representative running in a crowded field of candidates for Ed Markey’s vacated House seat. His ad plays on the idea that he must “come out” to his conservative father … as a Massachusetts liberal. With the camera bouncing between Carl Jr. and Sr., the two say:

“I’ll never forget that conversation with my dad where I had to come out and tell him —”

“Wait for this,” his father tells the camera.

“… that I was a … Massachusetts liberal,” the son says.

“And he’s proud of it!” says father.

“Dad’s in the Tea Party,” Sciortino says.

Sciortino and son then list the candidate’s liberal positions, father with notes of despair and son with pride.

Whether the ad actually becomes a classic likely depends on how it impacts Sciortino’s fundraising and vote share. But since its release, the spot has given the candidate in a race with basically no national profile a huge amount of national attention. It’s seen coverage in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR. “This ad’s basically a masterpiece,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted. “This campaign ad is actually adorable,” reads a Denver Post headline.

The ad seems to work for the same reasons “All in the Family” was popular. People can relate to a gap in political views between family members, especially when those on both side of the debate are portrayed with sympathy. “It reminds us of what we hope political exchanges can be like: no flame throwing, no cheap shots, no yelling.  One man who has beliefs the other man finds abhorrent.  But the political divisions between the two don’t come between their personal relationship,” writes Stonehill political science professor Peter Ubertaccio on MassPoliticsProfs.com.

Sciortino isn’t even the first person in this race to put a parent in a political ad. Katherine Clark’s mother appeared in her ad, but the two of them agree that Republicans don’t believe women deserve equal rights so… suffice it to say, the spot’s a bit more combative than it is heartwarming.

Sciortino’s ad also works (and in this sense, Clark’s does, too) because he is running in a staunchly liberal district. As our own David Bernstein tweeted yesterday:

Sciortino’s campaign manager tells the Boston Globe they’ll be spending  “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on airing the ad between today and the Democratic primary on October 15.  Helping that effort is the fact that they didn’t have to spend $1 on it before it started paying for itself. There’s a tagline at the end of the ad that reads, “We need your help keeping this ad on the air. Please contribute at CarlforCongress.com.” If this thing keeps getting national attention, expect to see a lot of it on your commercial breaks.