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Vukmir's 1st Ad In Senate Race Plays Up Death Threats

Ad References Act 10, Doing The Same In Washington    

(WPR)---Leah Vukmir's first television ad of the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate shows her sitting at a kitchen table with a handgun next to her as she talks about the death threats she's received. Vukmir's ad Monday is the first from a Republican candidate in the primary. She's running against Delafield management consultant and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson. They are trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Looking straight into the camera, Vukmir says, "Ever have someone threaten your life for what you believe in? I have."

Vukmir is referring to threats she received after voting as a member of the state Senate to pass Gov. Scott Walker's proposal known as Act 10 that took away collective bargaining power from most public workers.

According to Matt Grossmann — a political science professor at Michigan State University — having a gun in political ads is nothing new. Grossmann directs the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and has studied the role that guns play in politics and elections. "It's a very typical symbol in Republican ads and in democratic ads in more conservative areas," Grossman said of guns. "So it's not at all unusual." Grossman added that primaries are "low information elections" so candidates often try to make bold statements to get name and face recognition. 

"Although it’s a couple months away, there are probably a lot of voters who haven’t hear of either candidate or haven’t made a decision between the candidates, so ads help to get that information out," Grossman said. "(Ads) are voters' first impression for some people" In this case, Grossman says the gun illustrates Vukmir's strong stance on Republican values. "She’s saying she would stand strong, while being there with the gun is just reinforcing that message."