Campaigns & Elections
Making an entrance: Comparing campaign launch videos for governor
Democratic candidates are competing on a cinematic level to make a splash in the 2022 race.
The 2022 Democratic primary for governor is now officially a three-way race between Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who made his candidacy official Tuesday.
All three candidates have released campaign videos that outline their opening messages to voters. Hochul is projecting herself as the can-do unexpected incumbent. Letitia James is touting her accomplishments as attorney general while Williams is leaning on his progressive roots in the all-important borough of Brooklyn.
City & State examined each of the candidates’ videos for their political messaging and artistic merits. Here are the highlights.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
Release date: Nov. 16, 2021
Description: Williams narrates his life and work as he moves around what appears to be his
home borough of Brooklyn.
First line: “My Tourette’s has never defined me.”
Five key phrases: Movement, troublemaker, policing, courageous progressive, era of scandal
Movement was the motif of choice for Jumaane Williams in a video with constant camera motion and plenty of walking. His voiceover explained how his childhood tics led to discipline problems from an early age. Then he moved on to a bodega and subway station while highlighting how “moving makes you a troublemaker” – in his case, one who eventually became well known as an activist-minded elected official for getting arrested at the various protests that were portrayed in the ad. And the camera panned around him just before the climatic moment when the newly elected public advocate looked into the camera and said he was running for governor.
State Attorney General Letitia James
Release date: Oct. 29, 2021
Description: Photos of her life and career with on-screen commentary.
First line: “Growing up in Brooklyn, she learned an important lesson from her parents.”
Five key phrases: Nursing homes, Brooklyn, change, women, affordable
Filmmaker Ken Burns might approve of this message considering how much it featured his trademark keyframing to zoom in and out of photos of Letitia James from childhood onward. After a male narrator concluded his opening lines, James sat in a leather chair as eagerly authoritative as any PBS talking head with the historic moment at hand. “A force for change,” she said of what was driving her campaign to become the first Black woman to be elected governor. She then told some more recent history featuring herself, the National Rifle Association, Donald Trump, opioid companies – and unnamed people who harass women, potentially referring to her office’s investigation into sexual harassment claims against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Gov. Kathy Hochul
Release date: Oct. 8, 2021
Description: Archival news footage of Kathy Hochul’s first weeks as governor.
First line: “A historic day in New York state as Kathy Hochul takes office as New York state’s 57th governor.”
Five key phrases: Governor, persevere, rental assistance program, action, signed
It’s morning in New York as the first in a series of newscasters narrate the historic circumstances that led to the upstate native becoming governor months ago. One TV reporter after another summarized early challenges like COVID-19, sluggish relief programs and moving state government past the various scandals that plagued her predecessor. The aerial shots of Empire State landscapes and clapping front-line workers might appear cliche, but the succession of superimposed headlines from seemingly every news outlet in the state – including City & State – focused things back on her parting final message about a state Capitol undergoing big changes on her watch.
NEXT STORY: Analysis: Jumaane Williams shifts dynamics in governor’s race