A Pulver Guide to Political Attack Ads

So, when you decide to take the leap and run for office, one of the things you might consider is “how will my opponents attack me?” Especially for women, who may tend to feel incredibly vulnerable in the public sphere (for many legitimate reasons), it’s one of the reasons I hear over and over again from incredibly smart and talented women who would be amazing public servants as to why they would never consider running. They just can’t get over the fear that they will be viciously attacked, their name dragged through the mud, their children and family hurt, and all because they dared to run for office.

That’s a real fear we all wrestle with, and I was not immune. But I knew that running for office, with so much at stake, with such a need for new voices in Lansing and better representation, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, and filed to run. Heck, I’ve worked in some of the most high pressure jobs in the world, and faced life and death decisions, and faced physical violence in hospital ICUs. Nothing they could say about me could be any worse than that, right? I braced myself for the worst, and wondering what could they possibly say about a fairly boring Mom, nurse and minivan driver? What? I went to the Women’s March? Yeah, so did literally millions of other people.

The first time the Michigan GOP put out a political attack ad against me, I laughed it off. It was so ridiculous, and a clear attempt to intimidate me and distort my comments regarding deadly white supremacy. In this tweet I was pointing out the hypocrisy of asking all members of minority groups to “do more to prevent attacks” while failing to expect those same standards of white men, who are responsible for more deadly attacks in our country than any other racial group.

Fellas, I’ve had worse. My response was this:

But the attacks never stopped. They have since put out these gems:

I look like a scary Western outlaw! “Hold it right there, partner! Ya’ll able to eat the fish in them there Huron River?”

The Michigan Republican Party, who you can clearly see is the entity paying for these ads, has decided to continue with this premise: I am some dangerous person, who has extreme ideas, and you should be scared of me and therefore “Vote No” on me? (Point of fact, there’s not a way to “vote No” on me. I’m not a ballot measure.)

They’re concerned about more Tweets in this series, so let’s break this down:

This second tweet they quote refers to comments I made about a call to compromise on choice. Which is funny because this debate is an internal Democratic debate. The comment was in reference to the notion that as a big tent party, the Democrats should welcome in everyone, and we should compromise on our core values, like a woman’s right over her own organs, in order to win more races. However, this was coming from the same people who had spent years telling us that incremental change was bad, and that any compromise on their core issues (namely economic policy) would make someone a “neo-liberal shill” and therefore not progressive enough to lead our party. So why this quote about internal Democratic debate was used I’m not sure. Clearly, I’m for compromise, and was chiding those who had lectured me on why it was so bad for so long.

I will admit, this third tweet was done in anger. This is the article they don’t also include that this tweet was referencing:

What we know about the ICE arrests that stunned an Ann Arbor restaurant
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took several people into custody during enforcement efforts in Washtenaw…www.mlive.com

This behavior by ICE Officials was abhorrent. They ate breakfast cooked by immigrants. Then when they were done, entered the kitchen looking for a specific person, who was not there. They didn’t leave upon learning this, they instead harassed and detained lawfully residents, who again, had just made them breakfast. This seemed incredibly cruel and unusual. The hashtag #ICEGestapo was trending at the time, and in this instance, where their power was abused to threaten and intimidate lawful residents was eerily similar to abuses of power we have seen in the past. Legal immigrants, green card holders and naturalized permanent residents in our state are being harassed by law enforcement and asked to “see their papers.” This is not ok, and we should not tolerate this kind of abuse of power.

Since I now have a platform and a voice to speak up for others, I’m going to. I know not everyone will agree with me, and that’s fine. I know you’ll make attack ads against me because of it, and that’s your prerogative. But I’m not ever going to be scared into submission, and I will keep speaking out for the voiceless with my new found microphone.

This attack seems to be in reference to my opposition to family separation. I do believe it is morally reprehensible to take children and babies from their parents, incarcerate them in a system that has not had the forethought to create a comprehensive system of reunification, and create a generation of children who will never see their families again. These are not family values, and as a mother, I cannot imagine fleeing my home for fear of my life, only to then have my children taken from me when I finally reach a place where I thought I could finally be safe. Seeking asylum is not illegal. Crossing the boarder at the incorrect spot and without proper documentation is a misdemeanor offense. Incarceration and termination of parental rights are not the punishments in this country for misdemeanor offenses. It is cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional.

Do they think I’m a ballot proposal people can “Vote No” on?

So, seeing as those were the only potentially substantive arguments they can show the people of the Michigan 15th State Senate District as to why I’m a horrible human being they should be terrified of, let’s take a look at their other tactics of trying to make me into the Wicked Witch of Western Oakland County:

“Julia Pulver Supporting Failed Policies of the Past”

So this ad directs people to an attack site against me called www.realjuliapulver.com and asks people to sign a petition against me. Well I hate to break it to you, the information you share in this petition doesn’t actually come to me with your demand that I not repeat my non-existent past policies, it goes to the Michigan GOP so they have your name, phone number, address and email, and can send you fundraising requests in the future. It’s a scam, don’t fall for it. If you have real concerns with me, my ideas or policy proposals (because again, I’ve never held office before, I can’t have any failed past policies) please feel free to email me at info@juliapulver.com.

“Julia Pulver Wants To Take Away Patient Choice”

Should you visit this website, you’ll be greeted with these hyperbolic, and weirdly photo-shopped to give me duck lips, pictures. None of these claims are true, and if you’re interested in my actual thoughts on healthcare, you can visit my actual website juliapulver.com. And it should go without saying, absolutely nothing in here is true, completely made up, and not unique to my attack ads. If you see attacks by the Michigan GOP on any Democrat, you’ll see oddly similar wording to everyone’s fiendish attempts to destroy your healthcare. (Coming from the party that fought the ACA every step of the way, won’t protect pre-existing conditions, gives drug companies blanket immunity, and has their eyes focused on decreasing Medicare benefits, this claim is particularly rich.)

Again, the website they direct you to is theirs, so they can mine your data for their own gain.

Now for the most laughable: I am sooooo scary to women & children in Oakland County apparently.

“Caution: Radical Policies Ahead. Julia Pulver’s radical positions put Oakland County Families at risk”

So, the cartoonish attacks against me for speaking up against injustices are one thing, but painting me as some monster that women and children are terrified of is beyond ridiculous. While spouting the Republican talking points about why all Democrats are bad and have failed in the past, they are juxtaposing those claims against pictures of women and young kids looking scared and shaken. This is so ridiculous. My policies of fully funding public schools, ensuring everyone has access to clean water, safe roads and affordable healthcare are not radical, nor would they cause such horror to these women and children. This is just sad, and says a lot about what the Michigan Republican party thinks of women, and their voters, who would fall for this kind of ridiculous manipulation.

Q: “But, where do they get all these scary pictures from if you’re not that scary?”

A: Why, they rip them off Facebook and Twitter and Photoshop them to make them look however they want, of course!

Case in point- the Paczki Face

As these attack ads have started piling up, I kept seeing one face in particular being used: a particularly menacing scowl. Like this one.

And I tried to figure out which picture this actually was. I don’t normally make a scowly face when posing for pictures. I sometimes make cheeky tough faces, but usually not a deliberate scowl. And then it hit me “this is my donut face!”

Fat Tuesday, 2018

Michigan (especially Metro-Detroit) has a very large Polish population, from whom we have benefited for hundreds of years in many ways, lots of them culinary in nature. Because of this rich heritage, every good Michigander, regardless of religion, race, or creed, on Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras makes a point to go to their local bakery and grab a big box of our favorite seasonal, regional tradition: Paczki!

(Which I’ve learned is the plural, Paczek is the singular form. Thanks Twitter!)

So, being the good Michigander I am, this year on Fat Tuesday, I did what I do every year: fulfilled my Michigan civic duty and enjoyed Paczki with my family. I posed for a picture, and the expression on my face was one of “I’m about to demolish this deliciousness, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me” cheeky fun.

That’s right. The Michigan Republican Party combed through my campaign Facebook posts, took this picture of me being very threatening to pastry, and used it to create many attack ads.

These messages have been mailed to tens of thousands of homes in the district, and these attack ads run constantly online. However, since I came to this realization, I’ve had some fun online pointing out this ridiculousness. My Facebook post and Tweet about this went a bit viral. It was even picked up by Gongwer Michgan’s blog.

Q: “So why is the Michigan Republican Party doing this? Why don’t they run a positive campaign FOR their candidate and not make up silly attack ads against you?”

If you live within a 30 mile radius of me, ads like this will pop up every time you go anywhere online.

A: Because, the Michigan GOP is scared silly that I’m going to flip Michigan’s 15th Senate District, and they are desperate to keep people from voting for me at any cost. (Literally, they’ve probably spent tens of thousands of dollars in attacking me.) They don’t care about quality debate on the issues. They don’t have a real record to run on, since they’ve had the trifecta of Republican control over the last 8 years and they don’t have much to show for it. They don’t care that I’m a real person, with family and friends and neighbors who see these lies they are spreading all around and are upset by them. They don’t care that I’m an actual human being with whom they may differ on certain policy positions, but am generally easy to get along with. They don’t care that my kids and nephews, who are all between the ages of 4–11, have to look at this every time they open up the mail box, or look at something online since banner ads like this are everywhere. They don’t care that I’ve had to sit down each of my kids and nephews and explain that these scary pictures of mommy/Aunt Jules aren’t real, they’re just mean names and pictures from grown up bullies who are trying to scare mommy/Aunt Jules (and all the other mommies and aunts out there thinking about running for office) from running for State Senate anymore. I remind them that I’m not afraid to stand up to bullies, and that they shouldn’t be either. I then have to remind all of them that bullying is not ok, even if some adults do it. #BeBest

It’s also not just me. The MI GOP are making ridiculous, again cartoon-like, attacks against lots of women running, like Kelly Rossman-McKinney and Kelly Breen, both of whom are poised to flip their seats as well.

They Photoshop out Kelly Rossman-McKinney at the Women’s March (and her glasses for some reason) and try to make it look like money is falling out of her jacket. Real clever.

There is literally a guy holding a bag with a dollar sign on it. I don’t even know what else to say at this point.

We have two weeks until the election, and I know this will get worse. I know that I am making the Michigan GOP work for a seat they never thought they’d have to defend. I know we’ve knocked on over 60,000 doors in the district, and we’re not slowing down one bit until the polls close. I know the people in the district are thoughtful, engaged and intelligent people who are not swayed by this poorly designed garbage. It’s one of the reasons our first video was about Conspiracy Dave, a character who tries so hard to hate me, but just can’t, because there’s really nothing bad or scary about me.

As people complete their absentee ballots or go to the polls on November 6th, I know they will understand that Julia Pulver believes in education, healthcare and clean water. Julia Pulver believes in fairness, equality and standing up for the voiceless. Julia Pulver is a registered nurse, mother of four, aunt of four, daughter, sister, neighbor and friend, whose one mission in Lansing will be to help as many people as possible. (Talking about yourself in the third person is weird, but name repetition helps people remember you. So I guess, thanks MI GOP for spreading my name all around the district for me! You really helped boost my name ID. Maybe you do like me and want me to get elected after all!)

For more information on the real Julia Pulver, visit my website and follow me on social media @VotePulver

The Guerrilla Politic, llc