Could McConnell’s UK/Duke ad gaffe cost him re-election?
by Justin McGill, General Manager --
Mar 26, 2014 | 206 206 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mitch McConnell released a new campaign ad Tuesday, and if this state is as basketball crazy as everyone says it is, it may have lost him the election.

The video features the voice of the Senate minority leader from Kentucky, accompanied by a number of photos and video clips. The images selected are designed to evoke a variety of emotions. Among them:

– A homeless man lying in a cardboard box on a sidewalk.

– McConnell shaking hands and hugging constituents.

– American flags everywhere.

– McConnell holding a shotgun.

– Trains.

Since the ad is, of course, targeted toward Kentucky voters, there are plenty of shots that remind us McConnell is a Commonwealth man:

– Horse racing.

– Horse farms.

– Coal miners.

All pretty standard stuff.

Then, toward the end of the minute-plus ad, there are two clips that stand out. They’d stand out any time of year, but it’s March, and Kentucky and Louisville’s basketball teams are getting ready to play each other in the NCAA Tournament.

The first of the two clips is a UofL player dunking a basketball in what looks like last year’s national championship game. This clip, I presume, was supposed to be followed by something from Kentucky’s national championship victory the year before.

It wasn’t.

It was from 2010.

Who won in 2010?


Full disclosure: I’m no McConnell fan. Not that I’m a big fan of any particular legislator on the national scene right now, but I think McConnell has been an embarrassment to our state.

In addition, I have no doubt that McConnell did not create this ad himself. He has people for that, and those people are the ones that messed up. All of that being said ...


Kentucky-Duke hatred has run deep over the last two decades. Somehow, if you’re reading this, I doubt you need a refresher, but if you do, just watch the promo packages CBS puts together for the NCAA Tournament. You’re bound to see Christian Laettner hitting a buzzer-beater to eliminate UK from the tournament in 1992. That entire game created enough bad blood to span generations.

McConnell’s ad, while trying to placate both sides of basketball fandom in the Commonwealth, inadvertently slaps Big Blue Nation directly in the face.

The mistake was noticed pretty quickly after the ad was released. The ad was pulled and edited soon after, with the offending image replaced by a shot of current UK freshman Julius Randle.

People are fickle, UK fans doubly so. Word has spread and is spreading about this gaffe, and it’ll be interesting to see how McConnell and his opponents react to it.

Aside from the enormity of the mistake itself, I’ve got another issue – the fact that the basketball images were used at all. Discontent is growing in the college sports landscape – student-athletes are part of a multi-billion-dollar business, yet their only compensation comes in the form of scholarships.

Now, the Senate minority leader of the United States of America has used – with permission? I wonder – images from two college basketball teams in an attempt to sway voters. And even if the McConnell campaign had permission to use the images, does that make it right? Should Julius Randle help McConnell win re-election? He just might end up being part of the reason McConnell loses.

Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached

by email at
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