Paul Spencer, a Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District seat, has a new ad out today arguing for an idea near and dear to the hearts of left-wing policy wonks: the postal banking system. The ad argues for giving more Arkansans — including those at the lower end of the income scale — access to basic financial services, and protecting them from predatory lenders.

The video will not be aired on television, the Spencer campaign told me. Despite having enough cash on hand to do so, a spokesperson said, they are choosing instead to focus on targeted social media and field organizing.

Spencer is running in the Democratic primary for the chance to face U.S. Rep. French Hill, himself a wealthy banker who is almost a caricature of the Monopoly logo guy. If I am being honest, when I just hear the name French Hill, I think about inequality. Anyway. He’s a good foil for Spencer’s message.

The banking ad (see above) is very Paul Spencer: It’s more professorial than flashy. Even in a 30-second clip, it offers thoughtful and sober analysis of a complex policy issue. Since everyone is enamored with comparing Democratic primary races to the Hillary-Bernie battle, I think it’s fair to say that it’s wonky in a Bernie sort of way, whereas the ads put out by one of his rivals for the nomination, Rep. Clark Tucker, have been more slick and market-tested in an establishment Democrat sort of way.


“Our ads demonstrate specific policies and how they benefit working families, rather than the vague ideas presented by Rep. Tucker,” Reed Brewer, Spencer’s spokesperson, stated in an email.

The banking ad is the first in a series of five videos, Brewer said, each focusing on a concrete policy proposal. One of those proposals will be “Medicare for All” — a key plank in Spencer’s campaign and one area of disagreement with Tucker, who supports protecting and expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act but has stopped short of backing a single payer system.


Brewer explained the decision not to do television buys:

No advertisements we run in this primary campaign will be aired on television. The effectiveness of television ads in recent elections—especially primaries —has been proven to be marginal at best, and a waste of funds at worst.

To be clear, we have the funds and cash on hand to match Rep. Tucker in ad buys, but are deliberately selecting not to. By investing in targeted social media, over 20 paid staff, and extensive field organizing in all seven counties, we have reached more individuals than could be reached via television.

In addition to Tucker, Spencer is facing off against Gwen Combs and Jonathan Dunkley in a crowded primary field of Democrats hoping to take on Hill in the general election.

The Spencer campaign released the following statement announcing the rollout of ads:

In this election, voters will see many advertisements from establishment candidates that offer plenty of platitudes, but little substantive policy. With this run of ads from our campaign, we are giving the voters what they have been asking for: concrete proposals for policies that will help working families, not the same message of centrist compromise that has already lost so many elections. Each one of these ads will present policies, such as a system of postal banking or Medicare For All, which are bold demands that create a better life for every American.

For the past eight months, our campaign has talked to voters across the Second District and run a policy-focused race based on what we have heard from the people. We look forward to continuing to focus on solutions that prioritize real people over special interests in the general election.