Politics and dating have two rules in common.  First, desperation is not an aphrodisiac — and second, don’t leave “hickys” where people can see them. In the latest silly kerfuffle in midterm politics, we have a little of both. A subcontractor for the NRSC requested “hicky” looking actors for a John Raese ad without any such direction from either the NRSC or Raese, and Joe Manchin thinks he can revive his flagging Senatorial ambitions on this issue. Manchin is about to give more hickys to West Virginia than all of the pimply-faced adolescents in the state deliver all year:

Well, look, it’s not exactly out of bounds to leap on embarrassing fumbles of one’s opponents, but one has to do so honestly.  It was neither Raese nor the NRSC that asked for “hicky” actors, or actors from Philadelphia, either.  In fact, both the Huffington Post and Greg Sargent agree that this is much ado about nothing.  Here’s the e-mail from the NRSC’s contractor, Jamestown Associates, to the casting agency it contracted, which never mentions anything about “hicks” of any kind:

Hi Kathy,

So here’s what we need for casting..

2 featured characters that will be talking to each other at a diner, conversation back and forth.  I will send over a script for them to read for the audition.  We will need the auditions by Wednesday  morning at the latest and once we have selected the actors, the shoot will be on Thursday, Sept 30th.  We will also need 5 background characters to fill in the diner.  The rate for the featured actors will be $400/day and $100/day for the background characters.

One male
–         Age about 55.
–         Looking for someone to represent the middle of the country… Ohio, Pittsburgh, West Virginia area
–         Middle class

One male
–         Age about 45
–         Middle class
–         Again, should represent the Ohio, Pittsburgh, West Virginia area of the country

5 background characters:
–         Mother
–         Child
–         Elderly couple
–         20’s-ish male

Let me know if you need any more information.


Kristen Holcroft
Production Manager
Jamestown Associates

Nothing in this e-mail even suggests a condescending attitude towards West Virginians, let alone a demand for hicks as representative of the electorate. The casting agency was a subcontractor on the project and never had any connection to either the NRSC or the Raese campaign.

Manchin, of course, can focus on whatever he wants in his campaign advertising. But Manchin runs the risk of losing the one weapon in his political career that put him in position to run in this race, which was his enormous bipartisan approval, if he continues using such a dishonest, superficial, and easily rebutted line of attack as this one. He may hope to damage Raese on the second rule of politics and dating, but Manchin appears to be providing an example of how desperation isn’t an aphrodisiac instead.