John Perdue's Anti-Tomblin Ad Transcends All Others

HNN Staff
Big John Perdue
Big John Perdue

Political TV ads come and go, but some remain in the public's minds for years to come.  John Perdue's latest ad just may achieve that status in its depiction of Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's questionable self-dealing in gambling.

View the new TV ad by John Perdue here.


John Perdue's previous TV ads have struggled a bit in trying to convey too much in one thirty second spot (or even in his gargantuan two minute ad that he opened his campaign with earlier this year).  But this latest ad richly develops a theme that many Southern West Virginians and political insiders know all about, but which is unknown to many other West Virginia voters, namely:  Earl Ray Tomblin's gambling background.

Not that long ago, Tomblin owned a business called "Southern Amusements," which was a gray machine provider for bars and other establishments across Southern West Virginia.   The gray machines were those slot machines put out before they were legalized for payout. They became legal during the Wise Administration.  

Gray machine owners like Tomblin had to maintain the public fiction that their machines were "for entertainment only," as payouts were illegal then.  But everyone knew that the gambling addicts playing them were not participating just for fun.  So this was a questionable business enterprise at best and lucrative, earning millions for Tomblin while throwing many Southern West Virginians, including some of his own constituents, into bankruptcy.

Perdue's ad plays on this theme by showing images of slot machines with Tomblin's face coming up instead of three lemons or three cherries.

But this ad packs in more than just Tomblin's past with the slot machine business.   The ad further develops Tomblin's penchant for self-dealing by reminding us with a Gazette article headling that his family's greyhound kennel (which sells dogs to the state's racetracks) picked up $2 million dollars from the state while then Senator Tomblin looked on approvingly.

The most explosive and relevant issue brought up in the ad focuses on the recent $100 million giveaway to the state's casinos during Tomblin's brief tenure as Acting Governor.  Tomblin may not have had time to get much done for the state, but he has found time to reward his gambling associates. 

Meanwhile, legitimate state needs like potholes and the like are shown on the screen as continuing while Tomblin's gambling friends get $100 million in taxpayer money to purchase new slot machines for their casinos.

This is a bold ad, one that lays bare Perdue's opponent in a clever and tough way.   Perdue has finally given the viewers a reason to understand the whole "Big John" image he's been showing them for weeks.  Perdue is saying that he is fearless and won't shrink from a fight with Tomblin and the gambling industry who supports him.

Grade:  A+  (highest grade)



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