Most of those who followed the election campaign carefully are aware that Ed Gillespie ran an ad about the Washington Redskins name-change issue during the broadcast of the Monday Night Football game between the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. I missed the ad because I was in Italy. But my daughter, who analyzes public opinion for a living, told me about it when I returned. She thought it was a masterstroke.
Here is what the ad said:
Narrator: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a bill to force the Redskins to change their name. Mark Warner refused to answer if he supports the bill or not. Why won’t Warner fight the anti-Redskins bill? Why won’t he answer the question?”
Gillespie: “I’ll answer the question. I’ll oppose the anti-Redskins bill. Let’s focus on creating jobs, raising take-home pay and making our nation safer, and let the Redskins handle what to call their team.”
The ad has been cited as instrumental in Gillespie’s surge from far behind Warner to a virtual tie with the popular incumbent. And it’s easy to see why.
First, most Redskins fans in Northern Virginia (as elsewhere) don’t want the team name changed. Second, they find it ridiculous that Congress is involving itself in the matter.
Gillespie apparently will lose his race. But in Maryland, Larry Hogan pulled a stunning upset to become governor-elect of this Bluest of Blue States.
Hogan too defended the Redskins name. In October, he blasted his opponent, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, on the issue.
Hogan began with this observation:
I like to call them the Washington Redskins and I don’t think the government has any business whatsoever trying to tell a private enterprise what they should call themselves. There used to be a thing called freedom of speech.
He followed this jab with a devastating punch:
He’s a hypocrite. Anthony Brown went to every game with lobbyists and people he was trying to impress and big donors. And they were all wearing Redskins hats and Redskins jackets. They were all eating and drinking on the taxpayers’ dime.
Now he refuses to call them the Redskins. He calls them “the professional football team in Washington,” while he wears his Redskins hat and coat and he goes to the games.
Hogan’s comments did not receive the exposure Gillespie obtained through his ad on Monday Night Football. However, Hogan did begin to surge soon after this story broke in mid October.
Coincidence? Probably. But it may be a while before politicians in this area object to or waffle about the Washington Redskins name.