Bill Simon goes for laughs in new campaign mocking Davis’ aggressive fund-raising

Wednesday June 26, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon unveiled two new ads Tuesday that skewer Democratic Gov. Gray Davis’ aggressive fund-raising with bouncy music and skits meant to get a laugh. 

In one, two maids cleaning Davis’ office encounter nothing but cobwebs and piles of cash, and then the lights go out — a reference to the energy crisis. 

In the other, a schoolteacher is turned away from Davis’ office because she hasn’t brought money, while a man with a briefcase full of cash is ushered right in. A young boy with a piggy bank prompts Davis’ receptionist to sneer, “Keep saving, kid.” 

“There’s nothing more fun for someone in the media business than to poke fun at our opponent,” Simon strategist Sal Russo said in introducing the ad campaign at a Sacramento press conference. The two 30-second ads are scheduled to start airing Wednesday. 

Davis’ aides weren’t laughing. 

“They’re a fictional representation, much like the rest of Bill Simon’s allegations regarding the governor,” said Davis press secretary Roger Salazar. ”... I don’t think Californians will find much humor in lies and distortions.” 

Simon’s ads play on a vulnerability for the governor as he fights for re-election in November — the perception that he has made fund-raising a top priority even as the state faces a $23.6 billion budget deficit and continuing fallout from the energy crisis. 

Davis aides contend the governor actually spends little time fund-raising and point out he was not born wealthy like Simon. 

Davis’ fund-raising was the topic of Simon’s first attack ad, a more serious spot unveiled last week. Simon is also airing ads chiding Davis for going negative and launched an ad in Spanish on Spanish-language networks. 

Davis is airing negative spots attacking Simon’s business background as well as positive commercials about his own record. 

An ironic aspect of Simon attacking Davis over fund-raising is that Simon has not raised enough money to air even close to as many commercials as Davis.