Have you ever witnessed a campaign message disintegrate entirely, right before your eyes? This week, we were lucky enough to see it happen, real time, to David Pepper.
Pepper and his campaign staff began the week flooding our social media feeds with criticism and finger pointing about the backlog of rape-kits currently being tested by the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Some background: When Mike DeWine took office, he urged local Law Enforcement from all over the state to send their backlog of DNA kits that were collecting dust on shelves across Ohio. To date, over 8,000 kits have been submitted. Relevant is the fact that prior Attorney General, Richard Cordray, a Democrat, made zero effort to assist, let alone work hard to resolve the problem of backlog.
Team Pepper hammered their idea that DeWine was dropping the ball, and that Pepper would work with local labs to do move through the backlog quicker.
The entire reason the backlog exists is because local crime labs weren’t testing them. They were letting them collect dust, while Former AG, Richard Cordray did nothing. So DeWine allocated money and personnel to help solve the problem.
According to David Pepper, it’s not good enough, or fast enough. His big solution is to outsource, back to the local labs.
If you didn’t catch that, those are the same labs that let the DNA kits sit in the first place, otherwise referred to as the root of the issue at hand.
As if that wasn’t clueless enough, Pepper and his senior team began a rapid fire spread of an article that said Pepper’s idea was a “good one.” But they forgot to read the rest of the article.
Any communications director worth their salt would’ve caught the part where it praised DeWine’s proactivism and his willingness to commit the money and personnel to tackle the problem. Essentially saying, he’s doing it right.
But they didn’t give up. Through out the week, the tweets kept coming, the attacks unrelenting. Until finally, papers from around the state began publishing editorials. Can you guess what their message was? Here are a few quotes.
“Mike DeWine did not have to take up the task. He chose to do so and then mobilized the necessary resources. He has earned room to conduct the tests as he has designed, his leadership on DNA banking and testing going back two decades.”
“Pepper’s accusation is so off-base that it shouldn’t go unchallenged.”
Additionally, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer issued scores of “0” (out of 3) in rating the fairness and message of Pepper’s campaign. Which is as strong a condemnation as I’ve seen on a “Truth in Numbers” Column in a while.
Needless to say, the Pepper campaign has recently shifted gears.
Pepper’s lack of knowledge of how the AG’s office even works has shown up on Twitter. Now, his communications team can’t even put together a talking point that’s strong enough to survive a few op-eds, let alone one that’s true.
It seems to reason that Pepper will have to rework his campaign message, and fast. Because this week, not even daddy’s money can buy him a good headline.