Politics and football mix on Super Bowl Sunday with Michigan campaign ads

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Mixed in with the ads for beer, snacks and automobiles, football fans in Michigan will get to see three politicians during the Super Bowl on Sunday – two who want to be in office and a third who wants to remind viewers of his accomplishments.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar’s 30-second spot will try to build a little bit of name recognition, something that he’s been lacking in his long-shot bid for governor. There hasn’t been much polling done that includes all the Democratic candidates for governor, but the last one done in November for MIRS News, a Lansing political newsletter, by the Target Insyght polling firm had  Thanedar a distant third with only 2% of the 1,000 people polled.

“Hi, I’m Shri Thanedar, running for governor,” the retired Ann Arbor businessman tells one person in the ad.

“Free Darth Vader?” the man responds. “Siri?” another asks. “Ten Radar,” yet another woman asks, before the final person in the commercial queries “Not Rick Snyder?” “That’s closer, closer,” says Thanedar.

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The ad, which is supposed to run during the half-time of the Super Bowl, cost $150,000.

Sandy Pensler, a Grosse Pointe businessman and Republican running for the U.S. Senate, also will air an ad during the Super Bowl as part of a three-week, $500,000 campaign buy. His, entitled “Detroit Tough,” talks of how he reinvigorated the Korex Company, which makes household cleaning products and has a plant in Wixom.

Both men are pumping millions of their own money into their campaigns. Thanedar has contributed $6 million to his campaign, while Pensler put $5 million into his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.

Dr. Jim Hines, a Republican physician from Saginaw, who also is running for governor and has contributed $674,000 to his campaign, will air an ad on Super Bowl Sunday, but not during the game, rather his ad will air during Fox News’ Sunday morning news shows.

Finally Gov. Rick Snyder, the Ann Arbor Republican who can’t run for reelection this year because of term limits, will continue a tradition of running an ad during the Super Bowl. He introduced himself to Michigan voters as “One Tough Nerd” in 2010, when he first ran for office and donned scuba gear and emerged from the water as the “Comeback Kid,” in the first ad of his 2014 reelection campaign.

This year, his one-minute ad touts Michigan’s economic comeback, reminding Michiganders of his accomplishments of helping create the environment for job growth, Detroit’s rebound and state budgets that are balanced and completed early. The commercial, which states “Now it’s time to accelerate and protect Michigan’s comeback,” doesn’t mention the upcoming 2018 gubernatorial election or his Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, who is running to replace him.

The ad is being paid for by Snyder's 501c4 non profit Making Government Accountable.

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