Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett—vying for re-election this fall against GOP challenger Jim Merritt—plans to launch his television advertising campaign this week with a commercial that sings the praises of a former Republican mayor.
The 30-second ad features Hogsett, a Democrat, sitting next to a downtown statue of former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut and calling Hudnut “my role model.” Hudnut, who served as mayor from 1976 to 1993, died in 2016.
“Bill brought us a football team, built our skyline and was still a neighborhood mayor,” Hogsett says in the ad. “We’re rebuilding our roads, adding jobs and hiring 150 more police for our neighborhoods. Bill didn’t care what party you are in. Neither do I.”
The ad appears to be an attempt to appeal to Republican voters in Indianapolis. Hogsett won his first mayoral election in 2015 against Republican Chuck Brewer, a political novice, by a 24-point margin. He faces a much more experienced candidate in Merritt, a state senator since 1991.
The campaign did not reveal exactly how much it plans to spend on the ad, but a review of ad buys on local television stations shows that Hogsett’s campaign is spending thousands to run advertisements starting Monday for at least three weeks.
On WRTV-TV Channel 6, for example, Hogsett’s campaign is spending $28,865 to run advertisements from July 15 to Aug. 4.
His campaign also spent thousands on television spots in June that sought to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a not-for-profit that raises money for children with cancer.
The campaign said it plans to run the ads on network and cable stations and online.
The content of the ad features at least one dubious claim: that the city is hiring 150 more police officers.
In fact, while Hogsett’s administration has dedicated more money to expand the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, it is experiencing recruitment and retention challenges with officers, and has not hit Hogsett’s goal to recruit 150 net new officers.
The city both gained and lost 110 police officers in 2018, mainly losing officers from retirements, according to The Indianapolis Star. It ended 2018 with 1,681 officers, meaning that three and a half years since taking office, Hogsett is a little more than halfway to his goal.