Mayor-President Kip Holden is “Kipnotizing” residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, according to both his and opponent Mike Walker’s campaign teams. But whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on whom you ask.
Both of the two frontrunners in the Nov. 6 race to be the next mayor-president have adopted the play on Holden’s name into their campaigns, using opposite connotations.
In June, Walker released a radio spot and a Youtube.com video accusing Holden of trying to delude parish residents into thinking that crime isn’t a serious problem.
“Has Kip been hypnotized, or is the mayor just trying to Kipnotize us?” a woman’s voice says in the ad. “Mayor, violent crime is no joking matter. Frankly, it’s out of control in our community.”
In the YouTube video, a watch swings back and forth as if to hypnotize the viewer.
“Violent crime is no longer in one area, it’s spreading like a virus,” the ad continues. “East Baton Rouge is beginning to sound like New Orleans.”
Another YouTube ad features a soundbite from Holden saying that homicides and violent crime decreased for the past two years, as the image of the watch swings and text appears asking, “Are you being Kipnotized?
Walker also has used the word in social media updates and stumping with various groups across the parish when attacking Holden’s record on crime.
Holden’s campaign has attempted to deflate the attack ad with humor, putting a positive spin on the word “Kipnotize.” The campaign rented space on a digital billboard on Constitution Avenue along Interstate 10 that says, “Let’s Get Kipnotized, ReElect Kip Our Mayor.”
Holden’s campaign adviser Rannah Gray said the mayor’s campaign team also has printed a few hundred T-shirts, stickers and banners with the slogan.
She said Holden’s staff actually first started using the term “Kipnotize” to describe the mayor’s knack for persuading companies to do business in the city-parish.
“When they were recruiting for one of the big budget films in Baton Rouge, someone made the comment that ‘We’re going to get this movie because the mayor is going to Kipnotize him,’ ” Gray said.
Gray said they heard Walker’s radio spot several months later and decided to flip the meaning back to what was originally intended back when it was coined.
“We heard this negative radio spot that Walker did, using it in a negative connotation and it’s just not (Holden’s) way to be negative,” Gray said. “So we say we’re going to flip that back around and make it positive. So we’ve just had a lot of fun with it.”
Roy Fletcher, a consultant with Walker’s campaign, who conceived the “Kipnotize” radio ad, said he thought it was an odd choice for Holden’s campaign to try to spin the word into something positive.
“That’s kind of amusing that they want everybody around them to act like they’re brain dead,” Fletcher said. “That’s what hypnotize means, that you’re brain dead, basically.”
Walker, a Republican, has been running a campaign primarily on a platform to reduce parish crime and has aggressively accused Holden of not supporting law enforcement needs.
Holden, a Democrat, has in turn said that Walker is sensationalizing the crime problem and did nothing for crime prevention as a councilman for 12 years until he decided to run for mayor-president.
Holden and Walker will face two no-party candidates, lawyer Steve Myers and businessman Gordon Mese, in the primary.
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