The candidate: U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, Democrat
The ad: "Reform," a 30-second spot on Philadelphia broadcast and cable channels
Producer: AKP&D Message & Media, Chicago/New York
Script and images: Black-and-white mug shots of two rival candidates appear. "Tom Knox and Mike Nutter say they want to reform government." (A question mark.) "What's their answer?" (Kid behind chain-link fence.) "Massive budget cuts, which would put neighborhood services and schools at risk." (Kids in classroom.) "With one in four people in Philadelphia living in poverty, that's a plan Philadelphia just can't afford. My plan offers hope for our city." (Guns laid out on a tarp.) "Confiscating illegal guns. Improving early learning and literacy (kids). And for every child, an after-school program. (Kid bouncing a basketball.) Fattah speaks to camera: "I have spent a lot of time reforming young lives. Together, you and I will transform our city."
Analysis: Fattah breaks his long-standing pledge to refrain from attacking opponents, but he has no choice - his early lead is long gone. Knox and Nutter have talked of reforming government by ending pay-to-play politics. Neither has proposed "massive budget cuts," though each promises to squeeze millions from budget efficiencies. Fattah seeks to scare voters about what that may mean. Fattah has made a big deal of a program of his in which firearms are swapped for groceries, though research has shown the effect of such "buybacks" is negligible on gun crime. - Thomas Fitzgerald