Sean Bielat Releases Best Political Web Ad of the Year So Far

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Every year we see candidates for Congress who have never held elective office. The normal path to Congress usually involves a long political career that starts in town government, goes through the state legislature until an opening arrives and a young legislator reaches for a Federal office. Candidates that try straight for Congress against powerful incumbents usually run symbolic campaigns with no chance of success.

But Bielat has been quietly running a fantastic campaign for the 4th Congressional district that just may beat the odds.

In any political campaign, when you introduce a new candidate, the goal is always to define your candidate before the opposition does. And when you are a political unknown, you essentially get a free pass the first time out. Established political opponents have no interest in attacking you because that will only give you legitimacy. So you get this one clear shot to introduce yourself to the voters.

And that’s just what this video does.

Bielat’s life story is like a Republican fantasy: the child of a military family, a boy scout, congressional page, a student of government at Georgetown, then a few years as a Marine officer, and now a program manager for a successful high tech military project at iRobot. The video, though highly produced sticks to a now familiar Republican formula – humanizing your candidate with an extremely personal approach. The video is a photo-montage of Sean Bielat’s life, made up of family photos, narrated by his wife. It looks like the kind of home video that families make to memorialize weddings and vacations. It somewhat mimics Ken Burns’ photo based documentaries.

It definitly draws comparisons to Frank in a way that will appeal to conservative voters without needing to reference Frank directly. There is a photo of Bielat as a Boy Scout. The scouts have become a somewhat divisive issue between liberals and conservatives. In recent years their leadership has become dominated by the Mormon church, and opposed to homosexuality. It mentions Bielat’s catholicism, his membership in the armed forces, and his traditional family life. All of them things which for social conservatives will bring to mind a sharp contrast with Frank. Without getting into any direct policy differences the viewer is reassured about Bielat’s allegiance to conservative issues: family values, support for the military, and his pro-life position on abortion.

Abortion and Gay Rights are lighting rod issues in Massachusetts. You won’t find a statement on these issues on his web site for example. So, how do you telegraph a conservative position on them without drawing the attention of activists on the other side? Videos like this send out reassurances to supporters while giving opposing activists very little to attack him with.

This short 5 minute video is way too long to be used on television, but it’s just right to introduce a candidate to Republican activists on the Web. I’m sure it will translate into campaign contributions and campaign volunteers. At this stage, Bielat needs to convince party stalwarts that it’s not a waste of their time to support him. After viewing this, I’m sure many will be convinced that he really can win.

Unseating Barney Frank Will be no Easy Task

Frank is an extremely polarizing figure, hated by conservatives, but beloved by progressives. And this year he is more popular among progressives than ever. The Boston Phoenix for example just named him “Best Local Politician”. Frank is famously feisty and a rhetorical genius – able  to shut down most attacks with a few well chosen words.

One of Bielat’s strategies is to use Frank’s combativeness against him:

“He’s abrasive. Every time he comes and speaks in the district it works for me. I want him speaking nonstop,” says Bielat.

It will be difficult for Bielat to go negative against Frank. After 35 years in office, he is already well known in Massachusetts. People who hate him won’t need a negative ad to hate him more, and people who love him probably won’t be much swayed by a negative ad. They’ve heard it all before. And negative ads against Frank could easily backfire. A sharp quip from Frank in response could give him all the free news coverage he needs to paint the upstart as a political newbie unfit for serious Congressional duties.

Bielat will likely get a free pass over the few months introducing himself to voters. Later in the year Bielat will certainly get into rhetorical matches with Frank, and that will be much tougher. Frank is Chair of the House Finance Committee, and is often criticized by conservatives for not having done enough to prevent the recent financial crisis. The criticism is weak, in that these problems have been building since long before Frank was chairman and he’s well practiced at deflecting those. I’m certain that by Summer, Bielat will have won over conservatives to his side over his primary opponent Earl Sholley. It will be in debates with Frank that he will need show independents that he has the chops to be a more effective representative than Frank.

Bielat is working with some very savvy political consultants at Swift Current Strategies, made up of some of Scott Brown’s top campaign advisors. Bielat’s life story is great material to work with, and this video delivers everything it needs to.

25 Comments

  • Bob Monty
    May 20, 2010 - 6:39 am | Permalink

    The YouTube screen is dominating the text at the top. The only way to be able to read the post is to copy and paste it to Word.

    As an aside, I met Sean and his lovely wife about two months ago. I’m predicting she will have a boy in August — I think is her due month. Sean is an all-around great guy and as broke as I am, I donated what I could to help him win and I’m not even in his district. I think he’ll do a great job for the Commonwealth as our new Representative.

    To the naysayer above, you need to get over whatever it is about him being a Marine reservist and someone who respects life. I don’t see anywhere where he has demanded that you adapt your lifestyle to conform with his. Too Republican for Massachusetts… Shirley you jest!

    Maybe Sean has too much honor, integrity and ability for you to consider him so you go right ahead and vote for Barney if that’s your choice. No one is going to try to twist your arm. It was and is still a free country last time I checked.

    • May 20, 2010 - 6:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks for letting me know about the rendering problem. It looks fine on my browser. What browser are you using?

      • Bob Monty
        May 20, 2010 - 7:11 pm | Permalink

        I’m using IE6 on this antiquated PC. Haven’t taken the new PC online yet because I want to add some upgrades to it first. I can’t wait to make the transition but a small delay in having to spend $500 on brakes for a 2006 Pontiac Torrent with 29K on it cropped up. Unbelievable… No wonder the people stopped believing in anything Detroit touched.

  • Bob Monty
    May 20, 2010 - 2:39 am | Permalink

    The YouTube screen is dominating the text at the top. The only way to be able to read the post is to copy and paste it to Word.

    As an aside, I met Sean and his lovely wife about two months ago. I’m predicting she will have a boy in August — I think is her due month. Sean is an all-around great guy and as broke as I am, I donated what I could to help him win and I’m not even in his district. I think he’ll do a great job for the Commonwealth as our new Representative.

    To the naysayer above, you need to get over whatever it is about him being a Marine reservist and someone who respects life. I don’t see anywhere where he has demanded that you adapt your lifestyle to conform with his. Too Republican for Massachusetts… Shirley you jest!

    Maybe Sean has too much honor, integrity and ability for you to consider him so you go right ahead and vote for Barney if that’s your choice. No one is going to try to twist your arm. It was and is still a free country last time I checked.

    • May 20, 2010 - 2:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks for letting me know about the rendering problem. It looks fine on my browser. What browser are you using?

      • Bob Monty
        May 20, 2010 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

        I’m using IE6 on this antiquated PC. Haven’t taken the new PC online yet because I want to add some upgrades to it first. I can’t wait to make the transition but a small delay in having to spend $500 on brakes for a 2006 Pontiac Torrent with 29K on it cropped up. Unbelievable… No wonder the people stopped believing in anything Detroit touched.

  • Nate
    June 1, 2010 - 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Bielat is unemployed! That is a fact. Are you people serious?

  • Nate
    June 1, 2010 - 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Bielat is unemployed! That is a fact. Are you people serious?

  • June 22, 2010 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

    What about Earl Sholley? Sean looks great on paper and has a great story but he’s only been living in Massachusetts for 3 years. Earl Sholley has been here for the long haul, has more name recognition, a better public speaker and more life experience. I think Sholley will appeal more to the average Joe who is looking for someone to replace Frank with a good common sense perspective. Sholley For Congress

    • June 23, 2010 - 11:03 pm | Permalink

      I like Sholley and have followed him in recent years. I think Sholley is right on the same issues as Bielat – taxes, government expansion, and foreign policy. Both Sholley and Bielat would be an improvement on Frank. I especially like Sholley’s positions on family court reform.

      He’s a solid father’s rights guy. I know a large segment of voters is going to go with him on that issue alone as Bielat hasn’t said much about it.

      I’d like to see Sholley do better – but I think its just a fact that Bielat is running a smarter more high profile campaign right now.

      Voters in the November election will really be deciding between Barney and not Barney. No matter which of these candidates wins the primary, I think they will end up capturing the other candidate’s votes in the general – unless the primary race goes negative.

  • June 22, 2010 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    What about Earl Sholley? Sean looks great on paper and has a great story but he’s only been living in Massachusetts for 3 years. Earl Sholley has been here for the long haul, has more name recognition, a better public speaker and more life experience. I think Sholley will appeal more to the average Joe who is looking for someone to replace Frank with a good common sense perspective. Sholley For Congress

    • June 23, 2010 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

      I like Sholley and have followed him in recent years. I think Sholley is right on the same issues as Bielat – taxes, government expansion, and foreign policy. Both Sholley and Bielat would be an improvement on Frank. I especially like Sholley’s positions on family court reform.

      He’s a solid father’s rights guy. I know a large segment of voters is going to go with him on that issue alone as Bielat hasn’t said much about it.

      I’d like to see Sholley do better – but I think its just a fact that Bielat is running a smarter more high profile campaign right now.

      Voters in the November election will really be deciding between Barney and not Barney. No matter which of these candidates wins the primary, I think they will end up capturing the other candidate’s votes in the general – unless the primary race goes negative.

  • Sharon Knopping
    June 30, 2010 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

    First and most importantly~thank you for your service to this great country! You are a true patriot! God Bless you!!

    And many congratulations on the upcoming birth of your baby! Our children are the true joys of our lives!

    I have recently moved from Massachusetts to Delaware; but am proud to donate to your campaign. Barney is a thorn in the side of the Commonwealth and the Congress and all the citizens of the U.S. I wish you great luck in this campaign!!

  • Sharon Knopping
    June 30, 2010 - 4:37 pm | Permalink

    First and most importantly~thank you for your service to this great country! You are a true patriot! God Bless you!!

    And many congratulations on the upcoming birth of your baby! Our children are the true joys of our lives!

    I have recently moved from Massachusetts to Delaware; but am proud to donate to your campaign. Barney is a thorn in the side of the Commonwealth and the Congress and all the citizens of the U.S. I wish you great luck in this campaign!!

  • Paul
    July 14, 2010 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Ok, Sean you served. I did too, nothing wrong with that. I think you come from a great up bringing and are a proud family man. Please put on a political face, are your handlers that afraid to get you in the race? What is stopping you from being the Republician political candidate that is not going toe to toe with the primary candidate. Don’t let the race start in September. You will be far behind in name recognition and it shows poorly on you that you won’t go in front of people and be heard on how you stand on your feet. If you can’t be caught speaking on how you will represent us in debate with Earl. HOW will you stand in front of congress and stand up and represent us. Clock is ticking, don’t fail to act. It will look like an act of failure.

  • Paul
    July 14, 2010 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    Ok, Sean you served. I did too, nothing wrong with that. I think you come from a great up bringing and are a proud family man. Please put on a political face, are your handlers that afraid to get you in the race? What is stopping you from being the Republician political candidate that is not going toe to toe with the primary candidate. Don’t let the race start in September. You will be far behind in name recognition and it shows poorly on you that you won’t go in front of people and be heard on how you stand on your feet. If you can’t be caught speaking on how you will represent us in debate with Earl. HOW will you stand in front of congress and stand up and represent us. Clock is ticking, don’t fail to act. It will look like an act of failure.

  • Rich Mitchell
    July 27, 2010 - 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I have to completely disagree with your analysis of this video and of Sean Bielat’s campaign.

    This video was tedious and provides no relevant information on the candidate. I could not care less what Sean looked like as a toddler, I want to know what he stands for today! I cannot believe I wasted five minutes of my life watching that video.

    I heard Sean on the Laura Ingraham show where she chastised him for NOT having a message. I was at a Tea Party event where Earl Sholley spoke about where he stands on the issues while Sean spoke about his grandfather. Give me a break. The little Harvard dandy needs to grow up and learn that this race will be about issues, it is not about whether he dresses better then Earl Sholley or Barney Frank.

  • Ken DeWitt
    August 2, 2010 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute? Sean has backed out of several debates already with Earl Sholley. If he's afraid to debate Sholley, Barney Frank will rip him to shreds!!
    The real grassroots conservative in Mass 4th District is Earl Sholley visit sholleyforcongress.us and get involved today!!
    Thanks

  • Ken DeWitt
    August 2, 2010 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Beilat violated Reagan's 11th Commandment pretty much right away with his ad hominem attacks of Earl Sholley. That tells me that he cannot compete on the merit of his own policy positions.
    I was at the “debate” where Bielat's only appearance was to send an emmissary with cowardly notes accusing Sholley of campaign finance violations. Some Marine fighting man he is.
    sholleyforcongress.us Primary Sept 14th!!

  • Bob Monty
    August 16, 2010 - 2:29 am | Permalink

    I finally started using my new PC a few weeks ago and it wasn’t until tonight that I went back to this article to view the video. What a hoot to see Newt Gingrich with an Afro in one of the frames.

    As I said before, I met Sean and Hope at a think tank meeting some months ago. They are a wonderful couple. I predicted she was having a boy (I’m 63 for 65 in the gender guessing department so far. Hope did not disappoint. She should have had the baby recently or maybe in a week at the latest if they’re going to have a Leo.)

    Friends of mine are pushing for Sholley. I met him at the same meeting and he did not strike me as a happy camper. His big thrust seems to be for custody reform and fathers’ rights – but that’s here in MA. So why isn’t he running locally to address the local problem? What does he think he can do at the federal level to address the problem of MA fathers getting screwed over?

    I’m all in for Sean… and Hope… and their new son. I think Robert or Alexander would be good names for the boy.

    By the way Rafael, thanks for publishing my pieces recently.

  • August 16, 2010 - 2:37 am | Permalink

    I like Sholley a lot too. A few weeks ago I thought it was safe to count him out, but his campaign has become a lot more professional looking of late – so I think he is still a contender for the Republican nomination.

    There are important father’s rights issues at both the state level and at the national level. I would not underestimate how much support there is out there for father’s rights candidates. Every time a man is given a fraudulent restraining order, or loses custody of his kids, or is given a punitive support or alimony order another father’s rights supporter is created.

    The worst excesses are definitely at the state level. MA has one of the worst records for custody for fathers, one of the highest child support guidelines, and among the most abused restraining order laws. But probably the thing that is most backward is alimony. We’re the only state with lifetime alimony.

    But at the federal level there are a lot of issues also. Among them is the matching funds that the federal government gives to states to enforce child support. The law may be well intentioned but it creates a perverse financial incentive for states to break up families to earn a federal subsidy.

  • Bob Monty
    August 15, 2010 - 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I finally started using my new PC a few weeks ago and it wasn't until tonight that I went back to this article to view the video. What a hoot to see Newt Gingrich with an Afro in one of the frames.

    As I said before, I met Sean and Hope at a think tank meeting some months ago. They are a wonderful couple. I predicted she was having a boy (I'm 63 for 65 in the gender guessing department so far. Hope did not disappoint. She should have had the baby recently or maybe in a week at the latest if they're going to have a Leo.)

    Friends of mine are pushing for Sholley. I met him at the same meeting and he did not strike me as a happy camper. His big thrust seems to be for custody reform and fathers' rights – but that's here in MA. So why isn't he running locally to address the local problem? What does he think he can do at the federal level to address the problem of MA fathers getting screwed over?

    I'm all in for Sean… and Hope… and their new son. I think Robert or Alexander would be good names for the boy.

    By the way Rafael, thanks for publishing my pieces recently.

  • August 15, 2010 - 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I like Sholley a lot too. A few weeks ago I thought it was safe to count him out, but his campaign has become a lot more professional looking of late – so I think he is still a contender for the Republican nomination.

    There are important father's rights issues at both the state level and at the national level. I would not underestimate how much support there is out there for father's rights candidates. Every time a man is given a fraudulent restraining order, or loses custody of his kids, or is given a punitive support or alimony order another father's rights supporter is created.

    The worst excesses are definitely at the state level. MA has one of the worst records for custody for fathers, one of the highest child support guidelines, and among the most abused restraining order laws. But probably the thing that is most backward is alimony. We're the only state with lifetime alimony.

    But at the federal level there are a lot of issues also. Among them is the matching funds that the federal government gives to states to enforce child support. The law may be well intentioned but it creates a perverse financial incentive for states to break up families to earn a federal subsidy.

  • Peter Tympanick
    September 16, 2010 - 2:49 am | Permalink

    Good luck Sean. I can’t wait to see Barney Frank’s face after he loses this election.

  • September 22, 2010 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Why parrot the press release for @SeanBielat. If you want an independent, libertarian choice you will support Susan Allen!

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