Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty is a boring man who plays with his food and whose wife yearns to get him out of the house.
At least that’s the image that Daugherty, a Republican seeking re-election as Precinct 3 Travis County commissioner, wants you to get.
It’s all in a TV ad that, as we brace for the potential political ad blizzard headed our way, is the best I’ve seen so far this year. In fact, it’s the best I’ve seen in years, mostly because in the political ad world where the goal is to exude charisma, this ad plays up Daugherty’s grinding, single-minded dullness.
And the star of the ad is his wife, Charlyn, about whom there is early Oscar buzz.
The opening scene is a picture of domestic tranquility as the Daughertys do the dishes. But, as we soon learn, all is not well in Casa Daugherty. The commish, it turns out, has his mind elsewhere.
“We’ve got room to put 2,700 people in our jail, and it costs us about $103 a day,” he says, still scrubbing as his wife turns to him and gives that “What happened to the guy I married?” look.
“Gerald really doesn’t have any hobbies,” she says in a mock interview in the next scene.
Next we see Mr. Excitement as he’s grilling outdoors while chatting with a friend who’s bored out of his mind.
“Last year’s tax rate was .4169,” Daugherty tells the guy. “This year we could take that down to .3838.”
Back in the kitchen, a female friend observing the scene sympathetically asks Charlyn Daugherty, “So is he always like that?”
“Yeah,” the suffering wife replies, “all the time.”
Back outside, Gerald Daugherty is still numbifying his friend with tax talk.
“Most people leave their work at the office,” Charlyn Daugherty says in the mock interview, which leads to a scene in which the commish is using his fork, knife and five slices of meat on his plate to make a point about mass transit.
“We got three light-rail cars,” he says as he rearranges the meat while his tablemates’ faces glaze over. “You can put 60 people on each car. So even if you add two cars, you’re talking about maybe 300 people who are affected. There are a million people in this community. I mean that is .01 to the eighth power. If you round it off it’s zero.”
Back to the Charlyn Daugherty interview: “All he wants to do is fix things.”
Next they’re in the laundry room, and the commish is talking about a truck spewing fumes in a neighborhood. Charlyn Daugherty again gives him the look, which becomes even more expressive when her husband drops this bombshell, “You know, I think I like helping around the house here.”
This leads to the closing scene, the one they’ll show at the Oscars in the best leading actress nominee montage.
“Please re-elect Gerald,” the suffering wife says pleadingly. “Please.”
Bravo. A tour de force. The feel-good political ad of a feel-bad political season. (FYI, the other man and woman in the ad are Daugherty friends Ken Blaker and Becky Bray. “They didn’t even know what they were coming over for,” Gerald Daugherty said of the ad’s co-stars.)
Reading about the ad doesn’t do it justice. You’ve got to see it. And lots of people have, even before it’s scheduled to start showing up on TV this week on local news shows, “General Hospital,” “The View” and elsewhere. Chad Crow of Austin-based KC Strategies, who made the ad, said it’s had more than 400,000 viewings at various online platforms, including votegerald.com, since it was posted Oct. 5.
I’m not endorsing anyone here. I live in Precinct 2. I don’t care who’s commissioner in Precinct 3. I don’t care if the people of Precinct 3 re-elect Daugherty or oust him in favor of Democratic challenger David Holmes. I don’t even care if Precinct 3 builds a wall around it and makes Precincts 1 and 4 pay for it. (I will care if they try to make Precinct 2 pay for it.)
But everybody should see this ad.
And if you see one you think everyone needs to see, please point it out to me.