Above: A clip from a recent Tom Corbett attack ad, where the Pennsylvania republican gubernatorial candidate criticizes Dan Onorato's "brother."
Philadelphia, PA--A new attack ad by Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett has, surprisingly, in this 24-hour news era, broken new ground in Pennsylvania politics. Corbett, Pennsylvania Attorney General, signed off on a television ad that exclusively targeted his opponent's brother.
His opponent, Dan Onorato, Allegheny County Cheif Executive, secured the Democratic primary in the spring after emerging from a very competitive field. The Penn State alum, born in 1961, is the fourth of five children.
According to the television commercial, which was shown across the state beginning last night, Onorato's brother, Colin Onorato, ran for governor of Colorado four years ago, using the slogan,"Colin Onorato for Colorado."
The ad declares: "Colin Onorato for Colorado? Yes, that's right. Colin Onorato for Colorado. Colin Colorato for Onorado? That's quite the tongue-twister, wouldn't you agree? In 2006, Colin Onorato, Dan Onorato's brother, ran for governor of Colorado with this more-than-difficult campaign slogan. Can Pennsylvanians afford a governor who is associated with such a disorienting tongue-twister? Try to say Colin Onorato for Colorado three or four times quickly. It's not easy. But Dan Onorato certainly thinks it is. Dan appeared alongside his brother in Denver and was caught on tape stumbling over the slogan at several pep rallies. Wow, Dan. Wow! Tom Corbett for Pennsylvania. Not so difficult, huh? This message was approved by Tom Corbett. Tom Corbett for Governor."
There is, however, one minor problem with the ads. Dan Onorato, who hails from the North Side of Pittsburgh, has no brother named Colin. The Corbett campaign fabricated Colin and his bid for Colorado governor in 2006.
"I don't have a brother named Colin, simple as that," protested Onorato from his home in Brighton Heights in Allegheny County, smiling at the throng of reporters. "This is a completely made up story. Even if I did have a brother Colin, who ran for governor of Colorado, he would have probably used the slogan: Colin Onorato, making the Centennial State better for all. If I know my fake brother like I think I do, he wouldn't have been so ignorant as to use Colin Onorato for Colorado."
Some residents were stunned by the ads, unaware the brother was a creation of the Corbett campaign. "Yes, it's a terrible and difficult tongue-twister, but does Corbett really need to go digging that up? I mean, it's seems desperate," said Kelly Ruggerio of Altoona. "I'm sure Colin wants to put that behind him."
"You can't penalize someone for their name and how they use it in a slogan," said Hazleton resident Kevin Clonovich. "I like Tom, but that just wasn't right."
Others were thankful of the warning. "I had made my mind up a long time ago," said John Hamilton, in town for a business trip from Erie, PA. "I was going with Onorato. Now, there's no way I can vote for him. Maybe if his brother ran for office in, oh, I don't know ... Tennessee."
When told Onorato had no brother named Colin, Hamilton responded, "Yeah, but still. I can't vote for someone whose brother confused the tongues of millions of people from Colorado."
"I once heard Colin do a speech in Uniontown, PA," said Cliff Dunegan, a registered Republican of the same town. "He had a lot of attitude or something. I can't vote for the brother of that guy. No way!"
Corbett declined to be interviewed for this article. His assistant campaign manager, however, was asked about the strategy of completely making up a relative in order to bring down an opponent: "There's no proof that Colin Onorato, or his Colorado gubernatorial campaign, doesn't exist. I don't know if I can explain that any better."
Onorato plans to air a response ad that informs Pennsylvanians that he has no brother Colin. In addition, the Onorato team plans to air an ad that calls out Tom Corbett's "brother" Corey. Apparently, Corey Corbett ran for mayor of Coral Gables in the recent past.