Tim Warneke, a California-based Mitt Romney impersonator, is seen filming part of a satirical ad for the League of Conservation Voters supporting Democrat Ed Markey in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election. The scene was filmed in front of WGBY-TV studios before the Springfield debate between Markey and his Republican opponent Gabriel Gomez.
Mitt Romney is back.
Or at least that’s what the League of Conservation Voters wants you to think.
The organization, which has already spent $1.2 million helping Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey in the U.S. Senate race, is launching two satirical ads featuring a Romney impersonator.
The League of Conservation Voters is one of two environmental groups that have worked to tie Republican private equity investor and Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez to Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The anti-Keystone Pipeline group NextGen Committee also launched a campaign that includes web ads, signs and even airplane banners calling Gomez “Mitt Lite.”
Romney lost his liberal-leaning home state in 2012 by 23 points. Gomez is battling Markey in a June 25 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The new $50,000 online advertising campaign by the LCV will include ads on YouTube and in banners on popular news sites, targeting Massachusetts voters.
One of the ads, which will be released Wednesday but was provided exclusively to The Republican/MassLive.com on Tuesday, opens with a clip of “Romney” in his car returning to Massachusetts.
Romney is Tim Warneke, a California-based Romney impersonator. On the day of the Senate debate in Springfield, Warneke visited Gomez’s campaign headquarters and the debate site on behalf of the LCV.
The ad shows Warneke, as Romney, greeting voters in Massachusetts. “I see a lot of Mitt Romney in Gabriel Gomez,” he says. “Endorsing him is like endorsing myself.” He criticizes Gomez for not wanting to take action against climate change, although Gomez has said he believes climate change is a problem. “We have a motto. We think people in China need jobs also,” Warneke tells one voter – referring to reports that Romney and Gomez, who both worked in private equity, were involved with investments in companies that sent jobs overseas. When Warneke tells one woman he and Gomez have a lot in common, she shoots back, “You’re losers.”
Navin Nayak, the League of Conservation Voters' senior vice president of campaigns, said, "Since Gabriel Gomez and Mitt Romney have identical positions on so many issues, we figured we'd get ‘Mitt’ out to campaign for Mr. Gomez. They both support Big Oil and refuse to support meaningful solutions to climate change."
Gomez has called himself a “green Republican” who believes in climate change and supports renewable energy projects. But environmentalists have criticized him for supporting the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Gomez also opposes the Cape Wind alternative energy project. At a debate in Springfield, Gomez criticized Markey for thinking “every green project is a good project.”
When reporter David Bernstein, writing for Boston Magazine, asked Gomez how he would address climate change, the candidate provided few specifics. “I support a free-market approach to addressing global warming, incentivizing businesses to be environmentally responsible and encouraging research and development of green energy,” Gomez told Bernstein. “I refuse to believe that the only way to combat global warming is to raise taxes and costs for businesses, or raise prices on energy and fuel for consumers.”
Romney – the real one – has not gotten involved in the Massachusetts Senate race.
The LCV is among the biggest spenders of several Democratic, union, abortion rights and environmental groups that have spent more than $2.6 million supporting Markey in the general election campaign, in addition to money spent during the primary.
So far, fewer political action committees have entered the race to support Gomez. One group that made a $700,000 ad buy, Americans for Progressive Action, has staff who are connected with national Republican figures, but it is not clear who is backing the committee. Gomez is also getting help from American Unity, a political action committee that supports pro-gay rights Republicans, and the Hispanic Leadership Fund, which supports Republican Hispanic politicians.