A Republican candidate in Arizona running for Senate has sparked fury for featuring in a Western-style ad where he is shown shooting various Democrats including President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mark Kelly. Jim Lamon, an energy executive, shared the ad on Twitter, saying that it would be aired at this year's Super Bowl.
However, much before its official release, the ad has run into controversy. Lamon is running for his party's nomination to face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona this fall. Kelly is the husband of former Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head outside a local grocery shop in 2011 while greeting constituents.
In the Line of Fire
Lamon has sparked outrage after he posted the minute-long ad on Twitter and said that it will be aired at this year's Super Bowl. However, the ad has failed to connect with many, including Lamon's supporters.
The ad, styled as a western, figures identified as the "DC gang" are seen entering a town wearing cowboy boots and carrying firearms. Their faces are half-covered by bandannas.
The three other actors portraying the Democrats are also seen in cowboy hats and boots, brandishing weapons, and wearing bandannas on the lower portion of their faces. Their identities of the three are revealed by the captions 'Shifty Kelly,' 'Crazy Face Pelosi,' and 'Old Joe.'
Lemon is then seen walking in front of the three from a distance.
"Well isn't it Big Jim Lamon," "Old Joe" says. Onlookers are upset by their presence, with one standing behind Lamon saying: "We're tired of being pushed around!" rising inflation and "open borders."
"The good people of Arizona have had enough of you," Lamon says in the ad. "It's time for a showdown."
As the actors portraying Biden, Kelly and Pelosi take out their weapons, Lamon fires his own gun, shooting the weapons out of their hands as the rest of the town cheers. The three Democrats run away.
A 30-second advertisement for this year's Super Bowl costs $7 million, but local advertising can cost less based on the fees charged by the broadcast network.
It's unclear how much Lamon paid for the space during the LA Rams' game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday but the ad has already received a lot of backlash for showing violence.
Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, called Lamon's ad "disgusting".
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in 2018, believes Lamon should take down the advertisement. "This Monday will be 4 years since my daughter was murdered. I take commercials like this seriously," Guttenberg tweeted.
"The boy who murdered my daughter was motivated by videos like this. @jim_lamon know what happened to @GabbyGiffords. You owe Gabby & @CaptMarkKelly an apology. Remove this!!!"
Brian Murray, former director of the Arizona GOP, called the commercial "pathetic."
"Perhaps the most pathetic ad from @jim_lamon yet! I think when he loses he should start producing used car commercials. He's perfect for that, and that ain't no bull!"
"Republicans don't have any ideas to help you. And they can't win elections. So they've gone all in on using violence as a path to power. RT if you're choosing #VotesOverViolence this Fall," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) posted.
Another major reason behind the ad facing backlash is particularly over the fact that Kelly's wife was a victim of gun violence in 2011. At the time, Giffords was starting her third term as an Arizona representative and was shot in the head at a constituent forum. Over a dozen people were shot, and ultimately six died.
The Lamon campaign refused to comment to the Washington Post's questions regarding the ad's critique, but stated it "shows the DC gang drawing on Lamon and he merely shoots the weapons out of their hands."
However, this isn't the first time a Republican have used violent imagery during their campaign. Last November, Paul Gosar, Republican representative for Arizona, was officially censured by the House after sharing an animated video depicting him killing the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden.