GOP U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir (Wis.) has released a new ad that is grabbing attention not because of what she says in it — but because she's shown sitting in a dimly lit room with a holstered firearm in front of her on the table.
What's the ad about?
Entitled "Threatened," the ad begins with the rendition of a voicemail playing where a male caller says, "I know where you live and I'm going to come for you. You're going to die and I'm going to be the one who does it."
Vukmir's campaign spokesman, Mattias Gugel, said the message was representative of the types of threats that the candidate received in 2011 while she was backing Gov. Scott Walker's successful bid to end collective bargaining for most of Wisconsin's public employees.
After the voicemail plays, Vukmir asks in the ad: "Ever have someone threaten your life for what you believe in? I have. When Scott Walker and I beat the union bosses, cut billions in taxes and defunded Planned Parenthood, the left couldn't take it.
"With President Trump, we can do the same in Washington. Standing on principle takes guts. I know what it takes."
While she's speaking, Vukmir is sitting at a dining room table, looking directly into the camera with a pistol placed within her reach. Vukmir never mentions the gun, nor her rival in the Aug. 14 primary race.
Vukmir's opponent in the Republican primary is decorated veteran Kevin Nicholson, who served in the Marine Corps. His campaign has attempted to paint Vukmir as a career politician — she's currently a state senator — while she has touted her conservative voting record and support for President Trump.
Nicholson has received criticism for his past position as president of the College Democrats of America nearly twenty years ago, but has been incredibly successful in fundraising for his Senate bid in spite of the Wisconsin GOP's endorsement of Vukmir.
Recently, Nicholson said that it was his military service that led him to switch parties back in 2007.
According to the Center of Responsive Politics, over $11.5 million has been spent by outside groups in the race, with $6 million specifically dedicated to Nicholson.
As far as the legitimacy of the messaging behind Vukmir's ad, Gugel provided the Associated Press with an actual Facebook message the state senator had received, where someone called her a "sick (expletive)," and said they "hope some nut with a gun shows you why there should be stricter gun laws. The only way you may get it!"