Ryall on North Carolina ‘Godless’ Ad (Updated!)

From the ‘Where Are They Now’ file: Once upon a time, Marty Ryall was the executive director of the Republican Party of Arkansas, before taking off to be a Republican political operative in other states. In 2008, he found himself managing the campaign of incumbent GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who was vulnerable for a variety of reasons, most of them self-inflicted and long pre-dating Ryall’s involvement with the candidate.

In the waning days of the campaign, the Dole camp ran a controversial ad titled “Godless,” hitting Dole’s opponent, Democrat Kay Hagan, for attending a fundraiser hosted by atheists. The ad didn’t help, and Hagan coasted to victory.

Ryall weighs in on the to-do with this piece in Politics Magazine explaining the strategic and tactical decisions to run the ‘Godless’ ad, and its effect on the race. (He argues the effects were negligible because they were losing anyway.)

I only had a vague memory of the ad, because I spent most of last fall weeping uncontrollably, so I went and looked it up on YouTube, where I found this long-form version:

I’m sure watching this high-quality ad, you’ll think, as I did: Wow, I just can’t believe that didn’t work! Which is to say, it is the stupidest thing ever.

UPDATE: A helpful Arkansas Project reader sends a note that the video above is a longer version of the ad distributed for web viewing by the National Republican Senatorial Committee — here’s the link to the tighter 30-second version, which is the actual topic of Ryall’s article.

Also, be sure to check out the comments section, where commenter Barbara offers a little criticism — and Mr. Ryall steps in to speak for himself. Good stuff.

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9 thoughts on “Ryall on North Carolina ‘Godless’ Ad (Updated!)

  • March 3, 2009 at 4:27 pm
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    I played the piano on that clip.

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  • March 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm
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    I think it was a wonderful ad. Well thought out and everything. All they needed was for George H.W.Bush and his son, George W. Bush, to campaign for Senator Dole.

    I’m sure there was time in both Presidents’ schedule. After all, Dick Cheney got out and campaigned for the GOP.

    Hopefully we can look forward to Mark Ryall’s continued service to the GOP.

    .

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  • March 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm
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    Republicans! Don’t listen to eLwood! I think it might be a trap!
    D.

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  • March 4, 2009 at 6:43 am
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    Wait, you mean that Marty Ryall, and a bunch of political hack consultants made a bad ad? Who else remembers Tim Hutchinson’s reelection campaign? It was literally like Ryall and all the other Washington hacks were trying to lose that race.

    Note to any potential Senate candidates next year, don’t hire any of these “expert” consultants. They won’t actually help you but they sure will take your money.

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  • March 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm
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    Wow, Ryall is a one-man wrecking crew. Carolina Senator. Kentucky Governonr. Georgia House race…. all of these after Ryall single handedly gave the local GOP a memorable FEC fine.

    3 losses (we know of).

    No wonder Steele said the RNC needed a house-cleaning. With clowns like Ryall still around, its amazing the GOP wins anything at all.

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  • March 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm
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    Barbara,

    Please allow me to set the record straight. First of all the fines you mention were from 1998 and 2000, before I was at the GOP. The fines just happened to come down when I was there. Second, I don’t work slam dunk races. I try to help candidates that are underdogs and most have given up on.

    Kentucky Governor? A partisan AG indicted him unfairly, but he took the fifth and pardoned members of his cabinet. Most everyone had given up on him. We actually won the primary in an upset, but fell short in the general.

    I took over the Carolina race when it was in deep trouble and most had given up on it.

    Georgia House? I took a candidate that no one thought had a chance in a 6 candidate primary and made the run-off. Barely losing that one.

    Also won races for U.S Senate (Paul Coverdell) when he was seen as one of the most vulnerable candidates and a top target of the Democrats. And Georgia Secretary of State with a little known county commissioner against the president of the Senate.

    cast stones if you want, but I am in the trenches taking on some of the toughest races in the country. Unfortunately we don’t win them all.

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  • March 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm
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    Ryall’s scorecard the last few years.

    Robert LaMutt for Congress GA–LOSS 2005
    Governor Ernie Fletcher INCUMBENT KY–LOSS 2007
    Bill Graham for Governor NC–LOSS 2008
    Libby Dole US Senate INCUMBENT NC–LOSS 2008

    Excuses, excuses, but seems like there is a trend here. We’ll see how he does this cycle with Karen Handel running for Governor in Georgia. My prediction–another LOSS.

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  • March 5, 2009 at 4:47 pm
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    Wasn’t Ryall in charge of the party when his finance director stole hundred’s of thousands of dollars right under his nose? Umm yes, he was.

    Losing 2 races with incumbents in 2 years is horrible. Incumbents usually win 95% of the time. Oh, and I checked online, both Fletcher and Dole were ahead in the polls by double digits when Ryall came on board.

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