That Pro-Steve Grossman Ad Is Unlikely to Shake Up the Race

The big concern of some Massachusetts Democrats lately has been that “Mass Forward,” the pro-Steve Grossman Super PAC, would unleash a torrent of brutal attack ads harming Martha Coakley for her likely general-election race against Republican Charlie Baker. The debut of Mass Forward’s first ad today should prompt a collective sigh of relief from those folks.

The ad, posted above, is a pretty tame affair. Its only critique is that Coakley does not support a law proposed by Governor Deval Patrick limiting individuals to one gun purchase a month. As Scot Lehigh wrote in his bull’s-eye prediction of this ad last week, it mostly shows that: “When it comes to progressive wedge issues, Grossman doesn’t have an awful lot to work with.”

Sympathetic mothers of murder victims notwithstanding, it’s going to be pretty tough to convince Democratic primary voters that Martha Coakley—who they think has been a boffo Attorney General—is bad on gun issues.

And, for what it’s worth, dealing with street violence is not an area where I personally would invoke Deval “where are those 1,000 cops you promised?” Patrick.

Personally, I think that if the folks at the Super PAC really want to throw the kind of Hail Mary needed to possibly give Grossman a chance, they need to go straight at Coakley’s one and probably only Achilles heel with Democratic primary voters. To wit: “Fellow Democrats, we are very concerned that Martha Coakley, the worst campaigner in the Commonwealth and a national punchline last time she ran, is going to hand over the state government to Republicans, the same way she handed national Republicans the crucial 41st vote that let them filibuster legislation on climate, unions, immigration, and women’s health.”

I’m serious about that.

Clearly the folks behind Mass Forward are not willing to go that far, and have thrown this quarter-million-dollar pillow puff jab instead.

Instead of ignoring it, Team Coakley rolled out its own ready-made rapid-response reaction, which included a video of ordinary man-on-the-street people who haven’t yet seen the Super PAC ad whining about how it is corrupting the election process and sending democracy the way of the dodo, and probably responsible for the plot holes in that new Scarlett Johansson movie.

As I might have pointed out once or twice or many times before, all of Coakley’s complaints about Super PACs, and criticism of Grossman for not denouncing this one, would go double for the election of Marty Walsh last year. Walsh, who actively resisted a People’s Pledge (unlike Grossman), benefitted enormously from Super PACs that did not disclose their donors until after the election.

So I asked the campaign today, in light of their new assault on Grossman over Super PACs, if Coakley is troubled by, and disapproving of, the Super PAC support of Walsh in that election, and Walsh’s acceptance of that support. Their response was the same one I called “a ridiculous cop-out” a month ago: “Martha is focused on this election and on her campaign.” (Followed by some Grossman-bashing.)

Coakley’s campaign also sent out a fundraising appeal this morning, asking supporters for $10,000 in the next 24 hours to fill the “Rapid Response Fund” needed to fight back against Grossman’s evil horrid Super PAC ads. It says that “Massachusetts has never seen Super PAC-funded ads in a Democratic primary,” which I suppose is true because A) the mayoral vote is technically a preliminary (albeit among Democrats) rather than a primary, and B) the barrage of direct mail from the Emily’s List Super PAC in support of Katherine Clark in last year’s congressional primary could be considered something other than ads.

That Coakley fundraising email claims that Super PAC ads “breed cynicism around our politics,” although it’s hard to be more cynical than a candidate who has benefited enormously from outside spending in the past, and who is currently leading by 30 points, claiming to need money for a “Rapid Response Fund” to beat off the horrors of Super PACs that offend her only in the single case of one being used against her in “this election and on her campaign.”