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Ad Watch: TV Ads from Mark Dayton and Rebecca Yanisch
By Laura McCallum
June 13, 2000
Part of Minnesota Public Radio's Campaign 2000 Ad Watch series.
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DFL Senate candidate Mark Dayton has started his advertising blitz, spending more than $300,000 on television ads running statewide this week. Dayton is the third Democrat to buy up large chunks of airtime before the September primary. Attorney Michael Ciresi has had ads on the air for months, and DFLer Rebecca Yanisch just finished a big television ad buy. In the latest in our series of Ad Watches, Minnesota Public Radio's Laura McCallum talks with analyst Dean Alger about the Dayton and Yanisch ads.

Campaign 2000
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WHEN MARK DAYTON RAN FOR GOVERNOR two years ago, his ads were quirky. One showed him bungee jumping. In another, the former hockey goalie strapped on his pads so he could deliver the line, "the puck stops here." That became "the muck stops here" in an anti-feedlot ad, featuring a cartoon of the Metrodome filling with hog manure. This time, the former state auditor and heir to the department store fortune has taken a more somber approach.
AD: His first job out of college was as a teacher in an inner-city school in New York City, working with so many kids from poor and broken homes. His next job was as a counselor to runaway teens in Boston, providing food, shelter and a safe place off the street for troubled kids. After seeing so much privilege in his own life, now Mark Dayton say how much poverty and pain there was in the lives of others, and it instilled in him a commitment to social justice he carries with him today...
The ad shows Dayton in a denim shirt talking to students, teachers, seniors and farmers, and touts Dayton's support for universal health care and education, and protecting Social Security and the family farm. Dean Alger, the Minnesota director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns, says it's a classic bio ad.

"Unlike '98, where he tried to really differentiate himself with startling ads, and real attention-getting ads, this is pretty standard in form. This is not going to generate a whole lot of attention or a whole lot of news, but it's Mark Dayton's effort at saying, 'I'm a serious candidate,'" Alger said.

Mark Dayton
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Listen to Ad Two
It's somewhat unusual for Dayton to be running a bio ad; he had the highest name recognition of the four major DFL Senate candidates in a recent poll, having run in five statewide elections and served as the head of three state agencies. But the campaign's ad agency - the Washington, D.C. firm running Vice President Al Gore's media campaign - felt many Minnesotans don't know much about Dayton besides his name. Dayton is also running 30-second TV spots on Social Security, in which he advocates dedicating the federal surplus to shoring up the program, and vows to oppose efforts to privatize a portion of Social Security funds. Alger said it's interesting that Dayton picked Social Security for his first issue ad.

"In '98, he hammered away repeatedly, probably a half-dozen ads, talked about the health care issue, and it wasn't being talked about much at that time," Alger said.

Rebecca Yanisch
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Watch Ad Two
But Dayton seems certain to raise health care again in this campaign; he plans to roll out more ads in the remaining nine weeks before the primary, and has said he'll spend as much as he needs to be as visible as the other DFL candidates. Attorney Mike Ciresi plans to run more television ads in a couple of weeks, and state Senator Jerry Janezich's campaign says he'll probably run TV ads the last two weeks before the primary, although the latest fundraising disclosure shows Janezich doesn't have the money to do a major blitz. Businesswoman Rebecca Yanisch just ended a month-long run of two television spots, both stressing her background as young single mother who worked her way through college.
AD: Yanisch: As I thought about, how do I get out of the tough spot I was in, it became real clear to me that you can't do that without a higher education ...

Narrator: She's been named one of Minnesota's top businesswomen, helped lead the economic boom in Minneapolis - once Rebecca Yanisch was a struggling single mother, but education transformed her life...
Analyst Alger takes issue with the word struggling, because Yanisch comes from a well-known family that owns a 3,000-acre farm in the Red River Valley.

"For the average viewer, they come away with the impression that she comes from basically a circumstance of poverty and struggling, and the truth is, it is misleading," Alger said.

But Frank Rizzo, a spokesman for Yanisch, said the ad is accurate, and that Yanisch didn't rely on her family when she became a single mother at age 21.

"When Rebecca moved out of her parents' home, she was on her own. Her parents had seven other mouths to feed, Rebecca took care of herself and her daughter; as a matter of fact, she did such a good job, it's one of the central themes of this campaign," Rizzo said.

Yanisch and the other DFL candidates are likely to stick to issue ads right up until the primary, according to Alger, and he doubts any of them will attack each other, but they may decide to take on Republican Senator Rod Grams. Although Grams doesn't face a primary challenge, he doesn't intend to let Democrats buy up all the airtime, and also plans to run some advertising before the primary.