This 30-second ad follows another in which Lomax appears with Democratic District Attorney candidate Antonetta Stancu and says, “We know that to fight crime we have to fund the police.”
The explicit commitment to fund the police is rooted in lessons learned from 2020, when many Democrats insisted that the “defund the police” movement hurt their electoral prospects. The Congressional Democratic campaign committee also concluded in an election autopsy earlier this year that the issue “carries a punch.” But the Democratic message is also a reaction to the polls: only 18% of Americans said they support the “defund the police” movement, according to a poll conducted in March among 1,165 Americans from Ipsos / USA TODAY.
While there is no conclusive evidence from 2020 of a backlash in the polls, the increase in violent crime has left many campaigns this fall wary of being portrayed as soft on crime. This is especially true in suburban contests.
“This is one of the few attacks that needs a response,” said Celinda Lake, a prominent Democratic pollster. “Most of the other attacks – socialism that costs jobs, vaccine mandates, taxes – these attacks have no resonance, so Republicans are reduced to one attack.”
“I think a lot of Democrats are just trying to put this on the back burner and not make the whole campaign go back and forth over police funding,” Lake added.
In terms of politics, the problem turned out to be a non-starter – hardly any town or suburb has actually funded policing significantly in the year since the police murder of George Floyd. started the movement. But in political terms, the issue which is simply known as “defund” is a staple of Republican attacks anyway.
In Virginia, where nearly half a dozen legislative candidates have been the target of “definancing” announcements, Democrat Michelle Maldonado has gone so far as to deny NARAL Virginia’s approval this year because the group of Abortion rights advocate, like many left-wing organizations, issued a statement supporting police funding in the wake of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Maldonado’s reckoning in his suburban Northern Virginia-based district: being on the side of police funding was more important than endorsement from a large Democratic group.
Maldonado stressed that she agreed with NARAL Virginia on abortion issues, but stressed her support for law enforcement.
“For years I have worked professionally with law enforcement and I am proud of this work,” Maldonado written in a press release.
The Democrat also didn’t have much of a choice. In five Virginia state legislative elections this fall, GOP ads labeled Democratic candidates as “defund” supporters, although they never explicitly called for it. Accepting an endorsement from any organization that expressed solidarity with the “defund” was enough to get dried up.
“What the Democrats in Virginia are doing right now is trying to mirror their allies in Washington, who were also all for the fundraising police movement when they thought it was popular last summer. . Now that they realize it is a political responsibility, they are trying to reverse their previous positions, ”said Andrew Romeo, spokesperson for the Republican State Leadership Committee PAC, which runs the ads. “All other vulnerable Democrats in the House should join Maldonado in rejecting this approval, otherwise it would just be inferred that they support police funding.”
Romeo says this fall’s commercials are a preview of what lies ahead for the 2022 midterm election.
“We will continue to hold Democrats accountable for the next round for receiving support and financial donations from groups that wish to fund the police. If they really don’t support police funding, then they would do what Maldonado in Virginia did, ”he said.
In a sign of the discipline of the GOP’s message on the issue, the Republican National Congressional Committee even took the DCCC’s announcement of staff hires last week to hammer home the point.
“The most important new recruits in the DCCC have promoted anti-police rhetoric and funded the police movement,” read the subject line of the email.
Republicans used a similar playbook in Bucks County, Pennsylvania last year with considerable success. While at the top of the table, Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump by 52% to 47%, Republicans fared well in the negative vote most of the time.
Among the GOP winners: Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, who presented the “Defund Cities that Defund the Police Act” last summer. He was one of nine Republicans to win a district worn by Biden.
Determined to no longer be on the defensive, Democrats say their calls for police funding could protect vulnerable Democrats this fall.
“We are serving as a role model of how you take this attack head-on by stating what the party really is,” said Kunal Atit, campaign manager for Bucks United, the Democratic Coordinated Campaign that sponsored the ads for the party. county sheriff and DA.